Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Friday, December 30, 2011

thinking of a plan

Been thinking about a living border between the current orchard and future box drop area surrounding the pole barn for a while now. I think I'm going to build a strip of herbs. The stuff that does indeed overwinter well, and so can be planted in the strip instead of the solarium. The sage is for sure one that will be moved into that border.

AWESOME RESOURCE!!! https://www.artisticgardens.com/catalog/
I have over 15 seed types and one plant on the list for under ten bucks. I want to grow a couple of herb X, don't need a full sized seed packet of hundreds of seeds to just grow a couple of plants.

Love https://www.superseeds.com/
 They have a nice selection of all sorts of seed for very fair prices. I use them year after year for seed ordering.

Between the two I am filling in both my missing veggies, corn and spinach. And I am adding on a future herb garden for a few bucks and some patience.

Another new resource to be checked out: http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/perennialsA-Z.html

Still need to do a bit more pricing. Couple more rolls of black plastic to mark the spring beds, and probably wiser right now is a bunch of cheap yard staples.  Black plastic I have to buy, but I know a couple resale shops in the area I might be able to see if they have wire hangers I can whack into yard staples.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And with the cold...

Yes, things really are going so slow as to need no blogging. But my new years resolution is to do at least a weekly post, even when things are slow. Thanksgiving was awesome, Christmas was great.
 So the last week of 2011. Hoping 2012 will be good, and not the end of the world, lol. Planning along the lines of seeing 2013 chime, and now that Christmas is over, time to think about next year.

Thinking in the Growboxhill way... waste not want not, work smarter, not harder, be self-sufficent as you can.

Make gifts. If you plan, and start devoting some time to making gifts now, by the time next year rolls around you can have all sorts of good things made to give away. Instead of having a mad dash running around spending a lot of money all at once, spend smaller amounts through the year picking up materials to make things, and take the time to make something for your loved ones. Spend time instead of money if you can.

Recycle and reuse. Planning making presents gives you time to say, save up all those  glass jars instead of throwing them away to fill with homemade bath salts or flavored vinegars/oils or something like that. Be sure to wash everything thoroughly right away before setting aside, and remove all labeling that you can- and if reusing for consumption, use proper safety and sanitation methods.
Or save up other recyclables and make ornaments for everyone- this is especially cool to do and use the ornaments as gift tags :)
Another cool gift tag is christmas crackers- start saving your paper towel and toilet paper tubes now, and make up a bunch of them. Great way to utilize that tail end and odd cuts of gift paper left over from present wrapping too. Fill them with candies for a handy present to pass around the office, or as a "tipping" present.
If you know a Gardner that regularly starts seeds and has an eye into saving money on buying the plastic sets and is good with recycling, save egg cartons for them, styrofoam and cardboard. Plastic and styrofoam fresh mushroom tubs make good recycled pots too. Or use your print newspaper bits to make pots for them, and give them a whole box of them.  If they are more DIY, get them a pot maker, and give it to them with a tidy stack of your newspaper bits :)

If you really aren't the making stuff kind of person. Start shopping for next year now, and stash goodies away. Keep an eye on sales and clearance items. If you take a trip somewhere, keep an eye out for cool local keepsakes to wrap up for under the tree.
The time is NOW if you are thinking about getting something Christmasy for someone next year, because the sales are on now. A lot of food entertaining items are on sale right now too, like crockpots and other party servers, entertainment dishes, that sort of stuff.
Things that are in Christmas colors when the color does not matter to you. For instance, silicone baking mats are usually fairly expensive around here, 10-15 bucks each for the regular white ones in the baking section. However, in the baking section of the Christmas clearance this year, I picked up a pair for 2.50 each- why? Because they are christmas green. They work exactly the same as the white ones. Christmas mugs and other servers make great gift baskets, and are good to get now. Obviously if you are going to be filling them with something perishable like a movie night kit with popcorn, or a mug filled with coffees, save the perishables for closer to gifting time.
Another seasonal thing to keep your eye on is the gardening department. Lots of stuff is on seasonal rotation, and it more expensive or harder to find in the middle of the winter, haha. Crafting supplies tend to run seasonally as well.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yeah, nothing going on

Been a while again since I put up an entry.. Really not much going on.

Winds have brought down more big ass branches to clean up. The fruit trees have pretty much shaken down all of their fruit.
I have discovered that not all the maple trees in the yard are the same kind. Some of them have already fully turned and have been dropping their red leaves, others are just now turning yellow.

The poor chickens.. Madge molted first, and now Ruby is looking scary as hell with most of her feathers missing. Even Mr. Tasty is starting to look shabby. I've collected some lovely feathers, but where ever Mr. Tasty is dropping those gorgeous tail feathers, it's still a mystery to me.
The squirrels have been in overdrive dashing here there and everywhere too. Getting ready for winter I assume.

The other weekend after the winds I picked up a full wheelbarrow of chinese chestnuts, and man they were a bitch to try to uncase while they were fresh. I kind of gave up pretty quick. But my laziness had a payoff- found out all I had to do was let them sit for a week to cure, and the casings crack open on their own, lol.

Got friends and family coming out next weekend for a prehalloween bonfire action. Looking forward to it, I bet we have enough wood stacked for several bonfires. Cleaned out the pit, so we are good to go! I figure if I'm lucky I can get mom to bless the house and my friends to help me lay down the borders so I'm prepared for halloween. My love has already printed out some pumpkins that I still need to turn into jack o lanters- they are hollow so I can fill them with salt and they will serve for upstairs wards. Still need to make the ones for downstairs, I'm going to do them in saltdough for that extra added talisman kick. Next year if I'm an attentive and lucky gardener I will have organic ones to dry for future use too. 

All in all, just not much going on to write about.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumnal Equinox

Yeah, it's that time of year. I figured it would be nice to post a holiday entry :)

The equinox is officially listed on Sept. 23 for this year. It kind of floats from the 21-23. It is the second harvest, the first being Lammas and the third Halloween.

So, wonderful time to celebrate fall foods that are in plenitude right now.  Soups and stews, fresh baked breads, spice cakes, mulled beverages, yum!
Also time for the savorings of the season. All the trees and plants changing colors, the first true crisp evenings, the tang of burn smoke on the air..

We now have a wonderful property to celebrate the holidays on. We can go for a nature walk and see what nuts have fallen, maybe gather a few here and there to put out as an offering to the critters. I'd like to take a wander around the firepit sanctuary and trim out some grassheads and pluck up the dead corn to make dollies and crosses with for Imbolc. Cut the willow saplings so I can make a door for the fairy hill before Halloween. Maybe if I'm lucky I can find some still intact cattail heads and pluck them to dry for decoration.
We get to have a proper bonfire, hooray! Want to burn up the piles of brush down there so I can mow and get the new brush piles into place before the halloweenie burns. I also want to get the firepit cleaned out and re-stacked for fall burnings. We are almost a brick deep in ash right now, lol.
I'm also going to go through the decorations boxes and see what I have and need to make for Halloween.  I know some lil jack o lanterns need to be sculpted up for sure. Need to take a window count first. I'm going to go old school and make them out of salt dough.
I stumbled across a wicked paper mache lantern making site. Will be making some cool bits for next year!

In a way, it's kind of exhilarating that the equinox is here. Kind of scary too. Now I know I'm on a ticker counting down to full cold season. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feeling the need to bable about the yard.

So, it will be highly unlikely that any of my squash will be producing. Most of them are small and have barely bloomed. Probably a side effect of my hey maybe it will grow there tactic, lol. Better known for next year. We did get a couple ears of corn, though they didn't look healthy enough to me for me to bother to save it for next year. Well, maybe not hopeless. I'll collect them and put them into the casting bucket for spring starting. Waste not want not. If nothing else, the local critters may appreciate the late winter snack. And I can still use the corn leaves.
The sunflowers didn't really come up mammoth, though I'm not shocked there, I did plant them in a drainage field. I am a bit surprised that all my wild casting of sunflower and bean failed. 
Something that did succeed? The launch of the marigold project. Those plants I picked up at the end of sell season for super cheap have already produced enough blooms to pay themselves off. Plus they have busted out with more blooms that will likely go to seed before the end of the season. I've also managed to pick up quite a bit of end of season sale seed too. Between the seed gathered for wild broadcasting, and seed for plug starts, I think it's likely we will be able to get the first year off the ground and encircle the firepit area and path up to the easement drive.
How I sorted the seed? Seed bought for this year at closeout is for plugs in the spring. I picked up several packets of older seed for super cheap, and mixed it with the seed gathered from the plants this year.  Some of it will be broadcast for the last reaping, some of it will be saved for the first sowing. I think about half of the plug seed will go to fuel our first flood and fill experiments. I also picked up a largish bag of lettuce seed at the end of season for experimentation too.
Quite a bit of the wild carrot has finally gone to seed enough that I did my fall broadcast of it. Dropped the heads in a wide "hedge" from the cottonwood at the edge of the sanctuary up to the easement drive. In a couple weeks, enough heads from what was too young to harvest this time should be ripe for me to collect and store for the spring broadcast.   Hopefully in a couple years my efforts will yield a nice bed of the silly things. Why wild carrot? Easy to cultivate, looks pretty, and the seeds are good for medicinal and culinary purposes. Plus I figure they will add some extra goodies to the soil over time.  And they are easy to whack out if I want to do something else to the area later on :) All the daisy seed I collected will get sprinkled into the area too in the spring.
Took a load of yard droppings down to the firepit. Since I had my handy new loppers hanging from my awesome wheelbarrow... I took the hour and started the trimout by the pond. Lots of bushy stuff removed, and suddenly you can see so much more of the pond and can clearly tell where the eventual dock is going to be. lol, a shallow dock- I've been told the pond is shallow, averaging 6-8 ft deep with a couple maybe a bit deeper spots. So the pond is out for swimming, but a go for light boating and probably ice skating.
Still have a lot of cleaning to do down there. Right now it's waiting till everything has died back so I can tromp around and whack what shouldn't be there. The more pondside stuff will have to wait till we are a few hard frosts in. Wait for the ground to firm up more.
I think another couple years a border will be the chickory. I'm willing to collect seed and encourage in a border in the yard. There's a hashed in trail in the tall grasses from the drainage field to the far cottonwood, and I think I would like to sow in a border there. Locks in all the sides of the firepit sanctuary on the drainage side with a wide berth for if any work needs to be done.
And I'm not so sure about the cottonwood removal. A cleanup to be sure. But maybe it would be good to just trim it up rather than remove it. Its a good landmark.
lol, the best laid plans....

All the fruit trees have pretty much gone to crap. We had good intentions to use them this year, but I think we were really unprepared to actually do anything. I'll be able to do some fall pruning, I've read up enough for that much. I think the stuff I can't handle will just have to wait till spring for Earl and the boys to take care of. Right now I think the best that will happen is that the handleable pruning gets done, the ground gets cleared of dropped fruit, and maybe a few apples and pears get picked.
This cold season I will sit down and learn what I need to for next year. Still not planning on putting in any new trees for at least a couple years. What we have now needs to be tended to before making any decisions. 
An orchard success? The moss starts under the cherry trees. Most of them have at least stayed green all season, which is good. Will have to make sure to feed it during the wet spring to encourage it in. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to pull in some leaf mold over the bare spots.
Another take off? The ivy I moved from the solarium to under the pines. Rather nice to see :) Now I need to do the cutback of weediness, re-position the tendrils. They have stressed into nice long tendrils that I can now re-position into their fill in lines. And whatever is now left in the solarium can be wetted up and moved now and I'm pretty sure it will work well for inside spots.

I may still espalier fruit in along the neighbor and easement drive. And still build a bottle wall. I was thinking of doing a wall in segments that are only a foot or two high. The gaps between are where the plant is placed. Good way to protect the plants, and still do some bottle recycling. We do need to do some creative recycling. Though a lot of bottlers have a return in MI, there are some that don't, and I need to weed those out of the returnables to use for recycled glass. It's about time that working in the outbuildings isn't painfully hot anymore, so it's time to move the building stock down to the pole barn, and take the rest in for return. Maybe put in a person but not vehicle wide "gate" somewhere close to where our fence meets theirs. Despite my rant about the subject, I still want to be friendly. They are nice people, even if they seem to be irresponsible at this time IMO. Thinking of doing a sunflower project along the line in the spring to see how I like the layout. Some taller or open where I will want gates and gaps, shorter where I want the fence height of differing height segments. It's gonna end up a pretty permanent feature. Rather start with annuals now and figure out what I really want to do with the space now.

I'm hopeful that I will foot in some ditch lilies along the easement drive yet this year. Cattails got a good foothold in, which is sort of nice. If I can, I want to try to put the lilies in among them. Maybe in the spring I will start the lilac portion of that side. Now I have an excellent idea of what the water path is on that side. Once again, in a couple years, that spot will be sporting along right nicely.
The fairy mound is just begging for me to start doing something. I think a door to be installed for the move coming up. Sort of the official welcoming and introduction sort of thing.
The stump at the arch turn needs attention too. Maybe we should mount it with a pole. Do some lighting on it that's sun or wind driven as a small scale project.

Anywho, continuing around the yard. Another attention spot is the border along the road, and our driveway entrance. I think that the area will need some further consideration. Need to think about several factors along that strip. Pretty much all of them have to do with low growing and zippo maintenance.

The northern side of the property is shaping up nicely. Just a matter of cleanup and progressing with development there. Need to do some serious killing along the fence side of raspberry field apparently. A couple of the weed trees have sent up serious regrowth. I have left off those efforts till spring however. I may have cut back enough growth that I killed off the area that I think sprouted morels this spring. I saved one, split and dried for if I find someone to ask if it is a morel or not. The one I mushed on accident I whacked up on the spot and scattered further into the lilacs.  If it is a morel, and I think it is a blonde one? than I may have been in error with how much I cut back. I left the high canopy and the regrowths for now.

Must totter off. Time to stop thinking about the yard and dig into burger goodness...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Time for a rant

I'm so mad I could spit. Ok, already dropped the Fbomb several times at the top of my lungs in the yard and could still spit.

Our lovely neighbors-the ones that make the truck hole in our yard and STILL hasn't fixed it has really pissed me off some more.

We were out walking the yard today, and I wandered over to check the squashes. Lo and behold, I discovered a smashed plant. Looking up I discover a couple sets of tire tracks in my yard. Apparently dropping brush in the arch drive did deter the neighbors from using it, but they decided to drive around the drive, through my yard and over my squash plants instead.

Yeah, WTF? Like the brush wasn't a good enough hint to stay the eff off my property? Guess not.
Motherlorn jackasses- I loathe richies that have their heads up their asses so far that they can't be decent to other people, it doesn't even occur to them to consider anyone but themselves. People like that are on the top of my "I don't give a fuck what you think asshat" list. I have zero respect for anyone like that. Socially I have to deal with folks like that sometimes, but I avoid it if I can because it's so damn hard to be civil with them knowing what selfish pricks they are.

So now we get to spend money we don't have getting a surveyor out here to mark off our property line so I can build a fence. Shit, we don't even know where the bucks will come from for the second furnace needed to heat the "water" half of the house to prevent water pipe explosion yet, I might have to open a credit card to do it. In the meantime, I will be dropping more brush loads in the yard to further block access as a free solution. Something I shouldn't have to do if I didn't have subhumans next door. And if they complain when I put the fence in- too damn bad. Maybe if they were civilized and decent I wouldn't have to defend my property against their ravages.
Could this cause a problem with those neighbors? Probably. But apparently they have a problem with you if you don't hang out and get shitfaced with them every weekend, and since we haven't been doing that I think we are already on their yack list.

And hey, I think I now know where the hives will be placed once it's time for me to start doing bees. Was only planning on doing 2-4 of them but a nice line of them along that side of the property should prove to be more of a challenge than some dumbfuck on wheels is willing to handle. And lol, not like much else can go there but plants anyway, the ground is just too soggy when it's not frozen for any decent type of building.
Maybe I will try my first recycling project for the fence too. I know beer bottles are worth trade in here in MI, so we have been saving them all. But I wanted to experiment with bottle wall building too, so all I would need is the cement to bind the layers together. With the way the wind is around here it might get kind of noisy, but I think it would be a lovely reuse of those bottles. If I leave them whole, we might even get some wildlife insects finding homes there. I'm all good with that. Hell, I should start saving whisky bottles too, lop off the heads and those could be a killer line of planters on the top of the thing. We even have a nice mix of colors in beer too. Mostly brown and clear, but maybe we can get enough green for a cool stripe effect in the wall. An added benefit is that they may "accidentally" wreck a standard fence, but it would be pretty hard to completely smash over a eight inch thick fence of cement and glass. And if they do, I know how to use stone instead :)
And who knows? maybe the survey will prove to provide enough room for some gnarly spikes on our side of the fence too. That little extra protection, right?

Since I am already planning on putting in all the ditch lilies and a row of lilacs on our side of the easement drive anyway, in a few years maybe I won't even have to notice their existence, and they will forget they ever had the baha room to begin with.

Ok, starting to feel better now that my immense righteous fury is turning to a positive creative expression.

And more positive- we get along great with the neighbors behind us, the ones that have the easement drive. They are awesome people, every one of them. We get along with our north neighbors too, they party hard, but are pretty harmless so far. And one of the siblings runs the local tavern where we have taco Tuesdays, and he is a right fine gent, so that's an extra plus. Haven't even heard peep from our "far" north neighbors or the folks across the road, and the "far" south neighbors are nice. So all in all, we are still doing far better than the destructive psycho we used to live under in the city.

So, whew, rant over. And I didn't swear more than not swearing, lol.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Been a while

Yeah, been a couple of weeks since my last post. Why? Because there hasn't been much to comment on, lol.

We've gotten some more scrap down to the firepit area, and the rest of it around the yard is sorted and stacked. And er, that's about it for outdoor work, ha ha.

Also got the liquid glass panels done for the great room windows, and they are now up. It was sort of ambitious, I had never attempted to do 10 matching panels at once before. The great room doors look much nicer now that the cheap muslin curtains I made and the glass panels are up. It looks wonderful in the morning with the sun streaming in. I took pics, but haven't uploaded the camera yet, so I will put up a before and after shots at some time :)
Also made a crazy ass panel for the mud bathroom that's a big ole colorful flower. I wanted to use up some of my older supplies before they turned to total gel in the bottles. Between the different colored "leads" and "glass" it turned out pretty frigging bold, both from the inside and outside. I think I like it.

In other stuff, got a couple a really decent chairs from the neighbor. He had his pickup stuffed, and didn't want to have to offload it all into his barn, find space and all, so he asked if we wanted them. I like our neighbors, they are always so nice.
Did some shopping recently, gathering materials for stepping stones. Found a 12" round for 5 bucks at michaels in town, and a large octagonal one for 7 bucks at hobby lobby- it was on sale, and four tubs, two brick, and two rectangle stepper all for 4 buck each at michaels when I was visiting my mom and sister. Good deals all. I think I now have enough forms to warrant mixing up a full bag of cement at a time, yay! I alwo picked up a few bags of glass pebbles on clearance for a buck each. Some of them had glitter dollops on the back and it was a really nice effect, so since there were a bunch of clear ones, I did some of my own dolloping with the tail end of some glitter glues I had. Nice to be wiping out the old stock on that stuff. I also discovered glow in the dark glass stars. The glow brightly, still not sure for how long. I plan on planting those into pavers that will be the path leading from the house down to the firepit. I figure that will be real handy for guests :) The large octagonal ones will be for around the firepit itself, they will look fine down there. I'm gonna be making pavers all winter, so I would have some goodly stacks for placing next spring :)

Here's a hint for finding bits for building. Hit your local hardware store rather than the big chains when you are looking for odd nuts and bolts. I had the damdest time finding 3mm nuts till I hit the local place back in Wi- they had em by the bagful, lol. So I got two for my love since he needs them for mounting boards and such to run his printouts.
Speaking of which- holy cow is the data tank coming along sweet!! He was running it around the house using a stupid little ipod this weekend. Yeah, he wrote up the software, and now it can be controlled with a hand held device. How badass is that? Pretty soon I will have a data tank cruising along after me taking down all the stats so I can just concentrate on doing stuff :)

Cooking- Been experimenting with hobo packets for the campout coming up. What's a hobo packet? All sorts of yummy stuff wrapped up in foil so one can toss it on the fire to cook up. Did lemon pepper chicken with potatoes, veggie, and sausage packets so far, still want to try a hamburger one before I start posting up how I made them. Sheesh, I want to hit it right twice before I post up recipe action too, lol.

Anywho, my love needs to tinker with the internet for a bit, so I'm off again :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Grrr, electricity!

Sigh, power was out again. It was only a thirty minute squall yesterday morning, but we didn't get power back up till early this afternoon. Gee, guess what caused it? Downed tree on a wealthies property on the lakeside of 63. Apparently this is the cause of pretty much all our outages. Some folks like their pretty tree better than keeping the power lines clear :(
I have been assured that this year is abnormal for storms like this. We shall see how it goes. But hey, the generator is fully up and running now! We were using it last night and today. I'm gonna need to set in a few pavers in that area to make it all flat and grass free. The heat that kicks off that thing can cook grass dry in a matter of hours!

Did yet another burn, and I already have at least two more neatly stacked on the north side of the house. Plus we have a big ole pile of big logs action for burning. I think as long as it is clear, we are going to have one hell of a halloween fire this year! Did the burn before 10 this morning- and its really a perfect time for it. Not too hot, and the cottonwood blocks the sun till almost noon. And the embers can glow all day long and I can keep an eye on it- no worrying about the yard burning down in my sleep.
But then with the rains, prolly don't have to worry about it anyway.

Two hours saw about a third of the north maple mess stacked up. Not too bad. I think another three hours or so will clean up the rest of the majority of it. Got a little odd saw stack to far. But Earl and the boys sure did a fine job whacking up the rest of the sawable stuff. Still a lot of loping to firepit lengths.

Just Ruby this morning for chicken bread. The hummingbirds are popping up, time to refill their feeder again. I see the swans on the pond in the morning, but they usually go hide or something by mid-day.
And I saw a super adorable baby toad today whilst cutting. Just over an inch long, mostly dark, and hopping away like mad! Also saw a lovely yellow and black tailed butterfly today- will have to look that one up and sprinkle some seed for it in the firepit sanctuary.

For food: Super easy quiche.
6 eggs, well beaten
Add in 1/4 c flour, 1/2 t baking powder, and 1/2 t salt. Whisk well.
Add in any seasonings you want, and whisk those too.
Stir in a cup of cottage cheese, and a cup of shredded cheese.
Stir in some veggies- about a cup and a half or so, a 10 oz frozen spinach is good, or a drained can of veggie and a drained can of mushrooms, or something frozen or fresh :) If it's a watery veggie, cook off some of that water and cool before adding to the eggs.
Stir in some meat if you wish- a half pound of bacon fried up, or a couple brats left over from last nights grilling, those couple last slices of meatloaf..
Pour the whole thing into a pie crust- frozen deep dish is fine.

Cook at 400 for 15 min.
Reduce heat to 350, cook for 30 min.
Kill heat, crack oven, and let sit till cool enough to take out of the oven with bare hands.
Eat warm or chilled.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Insurance compliant!

Well, insurance compliant till the next time the adjuster comes out, which will be sometime this month. It sucked that when we bought the house we weren't really moved in enough to catch the first adjuster. I caught the second one, and that gave me the heads up enough to have a clue. I think I can spot a couple of spots to get ahead of too.

Earl and the boys came out and whacked our trees. For 250, the maple is now fully trimmed up, the oak tree danger is now down.. They even whacked up the fallen maple into bits and trimmed the chinese chestnut too :) Now it's just hauling to the firepit all season long, lol. Now I want to learn how to use tree spikes and roping- Josh was looking like too much hanging up there. Mark might be able to get us a trailer for the lawn tractor for cheap too, yay! The guys whacking up the fallen maple means that all the stools and table stump pieces for the firepit are done now. And yeah, good for future use. Earl said he does snow plowing too. I think next month I will call him again to to a handful of estimates on more tree trimmings and how much plowing would be.
Got the trim replaced around the one florida room window- had to use 1x3, no one had the matching trim. All caulked up and painted too. I got the exterior primer and paint in one stuff, but I think I will need to do a second coat for it to look good. It's not lovely, but it is up to compliance now. Got the glass busted out of the double glaze- once again not lovely, but hopefully at least done up enough that it will pass. Geez, re-learned a lot about caulking with a gun on that window, and it shows. But between white caulk and paint, good enough for now till it's time to really re-do it pretty. Used quite a bit less paint than I expected too, so I think the second coat will catch me up to what I thought I would use. Leaves me plenty to get the rest of the exterior trim wood painting done this season. And I bought one caulk per window=4, but I seriously miscalculated. I got the 4 windows done, plus a tad left over to start sealing the outside windows of the great room doors. And I have 2 caulks left over. Helped a lot that the tops and bottoms of the windows caulk was still good. I may have enough left over to finish the great room doors and seal in the horsey doors.
Started to figure out what I will need to do to fix the great room doors and horsey doors. I had gotten 1x2 for the window, but it was really not right, so that's going to be used to trim in the inside of the mud door instead. I think I can use more 1x3 for the exterior horsey door, and that will work just fine. Not sure how I want to tackle the great room door. I think I may have to yank out the top trim of both doors and just replace the whole shebang. And there's a bit of a problem with the bottom two window panels. The plastic trim is broken, and I'm not sure how to replace it. I'm thinking I might just have to make a custom mold with foil and pipe in my filler for the molding. Backfill the gaps with foam, and lay the molding over it. Will make it pretty sound once it's all done. But I think since most of it is metal and plastic, it will probably be wiser to mask the glass and trim and spray enamel the rest of it rather than using exterior house paint. I can paint over the spray stuff if I want to- I just think spray will be better to seal the whole thing.
Effing yuck- the mudroom bathroom. That for sure is going to get attended to in the cold months. It's kind of gross, all the missing trim and the bugs getting in, the sink is just too ewww for words. The privy too. And if I ever do win a fabo tub bathroom makeover- guess which bath is getting the cool soaking tub makeover? Hell, if I am lucky with the package, I might be able to hardscape the bedrooms nook too.
Anywho, wandering...

I did locate the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. Holy crap, what a find. Paint for 5 bucks a gallon, just need to keep my eye open for the right gallons. Screens are 5 bucks too, so I need to start doing some measuring on my missing screens. Full windows are 10 bucks- and shit, some of them are big enough to do a full greenhouse side! No kidding, there was everything from a little bath size window up to one that was 8x8 ft. Bathroom sinks, 10, bigger kitchen ones, 15. Cabinets run 35, guess where all the extra oddbits for the outbuildings are going to come from? And all sorts of random furniture and building stuff like glass blocks and tiles. Found some sweet yellow 4x4s, but since I have no idea where I would put them right now, ah pass. Maybe once it's time to start garnering materials for the mudbath they will find a home :) I think if I keep my eye on the HfH, I can pull a refacing for around a hundred bucks, maybe a bit less.
And they have knobs for a quarter- think it's about time the bedroom set from my childhood gets a makeover. Crazy, with this birthday just past, I've had the pieces for 30 years now. Not bad for particle board. Left behind the corner desk years ago, and lost the headboard in the move from Racine to Chicago.
Also time to really start counting the penny jar towards a truck. I would give my left appendage for one now, but I think maybe by spring we might have the scribbins up to get one cheap. If nothing else, a good down payment on something decent from a local dealer.

Otherwise, not much else going on with the getting shit done action.

Future house plans? Looked outside the upstairs bathroom window today. Think I know what the leakage problem on the west side of the greatroom where it joins the meow-nook is. There was shingle cornering put in- but it lays UNDER the shingles  along the down side of the slope. AND the slope up the wall is totally unfilled, leaving all sorts of little wells for water seepage. So, looks like a couple 5 gal buckets of tar and some flat roofing rolls will solve both the garage leakage and the upstairs/greatroom leakage too. Not pretty again, but at least this time I could readily identify it and know a solution.

The chickens.. Well, they are pretty smart. I started tossing them bread crumbs several days ago... Now they are to the point where some of my morning coffee time is spent tossing them some chicken bread :) I got to touch Mr. Tastys tail feathers today- he was too busy eating to notice. It was cool. Ruby hops up on the porch and starts making a fuss to let me know it's time to go tend to them. They show up later in the day too, but don't make much noise. By the time faire season is over and my sister can come calling again- she's gonna have a kinipshon about being able to feed the chickies.
The goldfinches and hummingbirds have really been popping up too- time to get to work on some extra feeding action for them.

On the tec front- That super cool robot cruiser I posted recently that my love is printing out?
The good news- he now has the programming action set up for it's movements, and all the components to make a exceptionally nice reader. Yeah yeah, it's to check out the safe environs of the indoors for now- but if I can get in some of the gardens next year that I want to, you can bet your ass that thing is going to be following me around then for notes :)
The bad news- the site that prints off other folks stuff for a fee- charge almost a grand to print the same thing off. That's about the price of a printer. Yep, we are skipping that.

Cooking- Well, today I'm doing a test run on what to do with apples. I know we are going to have tons of them to process. Had a bunch of little ones from last weekend that haven't been eaten. So about ten of them went to drying. I peeled, halved, and cored them. Then into thinnish slices and onto a couple cookie sheets. I put them on around noon, and have flipped them twice so far. They should need one more flip, then be done before bed tonight so I can kill the oven and let them just cool. Oven has been at 200 the whole time.
Had 4 apples left over. So I peeled, halved, and cored those too. Tossed the halves in a bit of lemon juice till I was ready for them. Then I took all the apple scraps into a pot, added water to cover with a couple cinnamon sticks, some cloves and allspice berries, and a couple grates of nutmeg. Simmered it all for a while till it tasted right. Strained off the solids, retaining the liquid. I then quartered the apple halves, tossed them in the lemon juice again, then dumped it all in the liquid to poach till tender. Strained off the liquid again, reduced by about a third, then thickened with sugar, remixed it with the apple slices. Perfect bit of apple filling or topping. Yum, to top a hot stack of pancakes or a belgium waffle. But these slices are going into some crescent roll dough I got on sale for mini popovers.

A weather aside. The weather has been unusually active this year according to local gossip. We get storms till now usually, but not quite so fierce. And huh- normally most of our power outages can be blamed on the lakeshore folk. The wealthy. They like they way their trees fill in better than paying attention to power line clearance. So the rest of us have to pay for their stupid and have no power while their tree downed lines get fixed.
Wandering again... gonna go get some grub..

Cheap gear or not- it can save one from a lot of grief.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

puttering stuff done.

Haven't posted in a week, so time for an update.

Yep, got the moss spread around the three cherries and the one maple it was already growing around. So far, so good, looks like the transplants are taking :) So now I get to do a buttermilk treatment. I think I'm going to go for the FoH walkway for that one, should make that easy as pie.

Finally, finally got the last of the trim from the fallen maple snipped up and the last piles are down by the firepit sanctuary now awaiting burning. Hooray for it being dry enough two days in a row to be able to burn a half dozen piles of the stuff, so I was able to mow today, and get the rest of the scrap dumped down there. Just one more pile of backyard scrap to go, then I can start working on the front yard piles, lol. Just logs in the backyard now to be cut up, and the main tree part of course.
Along with that, the back yard was finally cleared enough to mow again- holy shit, it needed it, and what a difference it makes in the way the area looks. Got all that crap mowed out on the north side of the house and garage too, big yay. After I get the tree trimmer called in the boys will get the go ahead for the backyard again since there won't be any dangerously dangling branches anymore. And yep, the one hung up maple branch is now down too, my love got on a ladder and yanked it down.

Fixing the boat is now off the list. David has claimed it back, it's now in his yard. Maybe next year we will get a boat- if I get some dock action built in that is. Dock first though.

Raspberries are done.  And yeah, the fence section will have to be let alone for a while till I finally kill off the tree matter there. Mulberries are starting to peter out. The pears are looking super healthy, the apples are looking pretty good too- both need some time till ripe yet. No peaches or cherries- next year. Got our first ear of corn forming, yay! I'm thinking I'm going to save all this years corn seed for planting a fence row next year. It's growing amazingly short, which is great. If I get enough seed, the fence row will be my marker between the orchard and future steel box area. There is so much wild carrot growing, I will have no problem making a nice hedgerow of the stuff to mark off the border of the firepit sanctuary.
The cauliflower was a total failure :( There are a handful of struggling sunflowers :( The spinach was a total failure :( The random beans appear to be a failure too :( At least next growing season I will be better prepared to actually garden. I shouldn't be too shocked, I said before we moved first year was more likely to be an assessment and catch up year rather than anything really productive.
But still, today at least I feel like I am keeping up to the point of progress for next year rather than falling behind on what needs to be done this year.

Tippy and friends:
Got a few pics today :) Red Ruby, White Madge, and of course the rooster is Mr. Tasty!

Boy, these guys love it where ever I clean up. And Ruby is just starting to figure out if she hops up on the front porch and makes some noise I will come out with chicken bread for them.
Ugh, all that reminds me I am way overdue for the bird feeders refills. I so need to start roughing in the path down fairy hill to make my refilling easier. And steps down to the firepit sanctuary would make life easier too, lol.

Been working on a craft project for the house. I'm making 10 liquid glass panels for the great room doors. Just putting up some basic unbleached muslin curtains made a big difference. But I need to do a touch of exterior work on the doors to seal them from the weather before I put the panels up. We got a bit of a leak so I need to replace a section of rotted wood and seal the whole thing up. They look ok so far, I'll post pics once the project is finished.

For cooking: Made up a big batch of chop suey for the freezer. Dried some blueberries to go into the dried berry jar. There was a great sale on breakfast links and bacon, so I IQFd the links and broke the bacon down to half pounds to freeze. Now it's just pull and cook for two or more :) I now have enough cheese dip jars to start storing herbs in them.
Last weekends salad was a simple italian pasta salad. Fuslini, huge grape tomatoes quartered, yellow and orange sweet pepper diced, onion diced, can of small black olives, drained and halved. Mixed it with some italian dressing and into the fridge. When I was ready to serve, I small cubed a ball of fresh mozzarella and tossed it all together.
I think it might be time to start working on my cookbook again.

On the tec front- Truckbot by my love. Interesting thing, a truck base printed here at growbox hill.

Friday, July 22, 2011

a break from the heat

Finally getting a break from the heat- at the cost of rain off and on for the next couple days.

But whew, I love my new wheelbarrows. Used the steel one to move the stepping stones from by the spigot to the buried LP line. Not quite perfect, but meh, I will be making more.

Cleaned up all the brush from by the pole barn and magnolia too. It was a fast five piles made along the arch drive thanks to my plastic wheelbarrow. The squashes and pumpkins along the arch drive are just starting to bloom, hooray! Got the brush piles moved there none too soon- the neighbors that were kind enough to still leave a truck hole in my yard have used the drive a couple times recently, so yeah, time to discourage that before any vines start trailing along, lol. And it's a nice staging area between the front yard and the firepit. Sigh for the rain- finally cool enough to do a brush fire, but now it's too wet for one, lol.

Got the worst of the big ass weeds chopped down around the chicken pad and onto the pile. Yanked out the whole pile of kuzu and left it to die on cement. Don't ever just toss that crap into the compost heap. Let it sit where it can't root till it's all good and dead if you plan on putting it on the heap. If you can burn it, do so. That stuff is horribly invasive :(

Getting a lot of falling fruit- enough that I will need to rake the area and trundle the stuff off to the compost heap. I know leaving the fruit to rot where it falls isn't good. Invites pests and disease. But I did notice there are some nice moss patches in the orchard, so I'm going to clear those tree bases and redistribute the moss there. It may be with some dedication, I won't need edgers around them if I can get the moss to spread. I can then start saving those for a different project.

The chicory and wild carrot are still blooming. Quite a bit of the plantain has formed seed, so now I will have to watch them for when they are ripe.

So now with the LP tank moved, once it dries out enough for it, time to weed whack the snot out of the north edge of the property line. Yuck, will have to spray myself excessively for the damn chiggers. They are extra nasty over there. Will have to snag a ton of hostas if I can find them cheap or free to dump into that area a bit I think. Good fill for the shady area that will be low maintenance in the years to come.
I got the number of Davids tree guy too today, so Monday will be a business day to call him and do a few other errands that need doing. Hmmm, maybe hit the HoH and HD to get the odds and ends to take care of the windows too. I think between tree trimming and fixing the florida room, that will clear up the rest of the insurance compliance stuff. At least till next inspection, lol.

Hmmm, moss. I want moss in a few areas of the yard. There's a couple of methods to help do that, and I'm going to try them. One is simply putting patches of moss where you want em. Did that a bit when I repaired the front walk, and some of it took pretty well. Another method is to make a slurry of buttermilk or beer and moss, then spread it. I think I will try that in test patches all over the orchard. Maybe if we get a decent break in the weather, I will do that. Good to take advantage of the weather like that :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Birthday awesomeness!!

Been hotter than hades for most of the week. Way too hot for outside labor. So I've been tinkering around with small projects indoors. Just trying to stay cool since we can't afford a central air unit till probably next summer, lol. Got bigger fish to fry right now. And I sort of jinked my back again. Need to start doing some stretching and core.

But today is my birthday, and what a wonderful day, despite the heat. BTW, FA has been right on with heat and sporadic thunderstorms this week. It said today was supposed to be storms, then sunny and cool for the weekend. Since it's hot, humid, and sunny all day today, I'm hoping tomorrow it breaks. I'm hoping the break does not knock the power out, we don't have the hook up cord yet, lol.

Made myself some goodies- pjs, salt scrub, and a jade jewelry set. Also bought myself a set of yard scissors. Had all the other stuff already, but the yard scissors- those were eight bucks at the local hardware store.

Even better- the T&C LP guy showed this morning- then came back and got the tank moved, properly raised, and the line buried- for FREE! Happy dance. One more insurance compliance off the list. Now I just need to make some pavers for the spot, will have to make some molds and mix up a batch of cement in my new wheelbarrow. I will be able to do up a full bag at a time now for mixing.

Wait... Did I just say new wheelbarrow?

Yes I did- the best part of my birthday gifts. My love didn't just get me a wheelbarrow. He got me the pair of wheelbarrows that I wanted! A steel 6 cuft for mixing and heavy stuff moving and concrete mixing, which is what I really needed. But get this, he also got me the 10 cuft plastic one for the lightweight stuff too! That was just a wish for a later date item. How awesome is that? He was paying attention the other week when I was talking about yard stuff. And the plastic one goes beyond mere need into the wow, extra cool item that I wanted, but figured was only a wish list item for some future point :)
If I had balls- I would have sweated them off today while assembling the things. Opened three bays of the garage and worked in the shade, that was nice. It was also really gratifying to sort of get a double present out of my wheelbarrows. The items themselves, and the really good feeling of getting them assembled, the cool project factor of the thing :) I made something today out of a gift, and I will use it for years to come :) It's a tangible thing. I will need to do some taping or rubberizing of the handles, and likely do painting of the wood bits at least. But I love them. If it wan't so effing hot, I would be out using them right now instead of blogging, lol.

Need to get the tree trimming done and the windows addressed next week to keep up with the insurance compliance before August. I think I have till the end of August, but I want to hop to as much as possible early if I can. Gonna hit the HoH and see if they got any cheap mats for the windows. Don't care what color stuff is right now, just want to get things fixed and sealed. I want to do serious painting next year anyway. Of course yellow with white trim.
And pttht. Need to do some major patching to the garage roof once it cools off in a month or two. It will just have to wait till then, but I think I can quick patch it enough to hold up till next spring or so for more serious repair.

The marigolds are doing really well in their planters by the great room entrance. I tried to line em up just along their rim and the dripline of the roof. Looks like it's working well. I think I will have seed to pull over the next couple days. The house side apple was looking glorious with ripening fruit today too.
Yack, need to be thinking about pressing equipment. Good thing the local farm place has an assortment of good cheap jacks, lol. And blech, storage equipment. Time to be thinking about big bottles for storing fruit liquids. We will have some dried berries and pears, and the best of the apples. But there will be a lot of apples at least that will see juicing and saucing. We just got an old meat grinder for five bucks at a resale shop the other day. Good enough for grinding a ton of fruit at least with one plate and a handcrank. Yep, will be looking at it closely to see if I can make it powerdrill drive instead. Maybe by next fruit season, we will have the whole thing set up with a lil sterling engine to run the power at the right speed for some good hopper feeding. And for now, with a couple of wheelbarrows like what I got, I can haul a lot off to the compost heap too.
Anywho, the corn is looking good too. So is a bit too much of the rest of the property. Found earplugs, so I am ready to go whack. Got my serious hauling and other whacking devices set up. And an assortment of good gloves for work. Ack, the heat is a killer though.

Think I might have to start doing coffee walks in the morning while it is still cool. I plunk my butt for too long during the cool hours.

Speaking of heat. I think I know what I want to do for my beekeep suit. I got a lot of off white slubbed silk, and growbox hill is rather fine about adding tec to old skool.. Say air conditioning for the beekeep suit. Electronics style. There's some serious AC for electronics out there, just a matter of figuring out requirements.

Tippy and friends? Too dang hot for anyone to be doing much cept cool hours. Need to fill the feeders though. And there is now an official Chicken Bread jar :)

Cooking? Lol, I'm off to get cleaned up for dinner. Tonight is the hubby's turn :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

just a bit.

Got the rest of the small wood trimmed out of the fenceline below the power lines. Now I just have to get out there with a ladder and maybe my love to get the tallest stuff down from around the power lines safely. I can start out on the ladder trimming higher stuff, but there will be a point when a second person is just wise.
Also got all the scrap wood re-arranged to the new raspberry bed. There were starts already marking off my width and depth, so I just re-distributed the wood. Saved a couple of decent 2x12s to drop for paths. Was planning on them running NS, but the way the plants already there are, they ended up EW. No biggie, three sections- and the fence section is still raspberry free so I can keep whacking at it for a while. I may end up trying to leave that area free honestly. The two banks would be a lovely amount for the reds, and if I keep the fence area clear, makes a handy pass area from the square foot row over to the area behind the pole barn that is designated for the asparagus beds. And leaves the fenceline still clear. I really rather keep that up and easy if I can. I want to do blacks and whites  for raspberries too, but the whites at least will go somewhere else. The reds are the glossy kind, so I'm pretty sure I can put in blacks there. If I want fuzzy reds, meh, that might be later somewhere. Think I might ask the north neighbors if we should remove some vertical fence panels for where the lilacs are growing in. Keep em for when other sections pop, and the lilacs are growing in anyway.
Since the wood is stacked pretty good all the way around, I'm thinking I may be able to just leave it as is for bordering. Sad, there were some lovely chunks of wood there before the carpenter ants got to them. Ew, the nests I uncovered and exposed to the sun. By the time those things break down, we will have some sort of chipper for grinding up chips to bank it. If not, square foot row is going to march right up to it, so it will be easy enough to haul rough compost there too heading eastward.
I think I will need to mark off my plum tree spots soon. The area is suddenly starting to rough up well. I know I want plums to fill in the orchard area. Maybe replace the peach with another in a couple years if trimming and care don't yield well. Or maybe try some experimental nectarine grafting next spring onto the peach, Muahahahhhaaa.
So all of the trimmings from the area so far eat up a pretty nice chunk of the fenceline. About half I would say. By the time the tops are down too, probably hit two thirds. Then it can all sit for the rest of the grow season, and hopefully I will have a good dead area to drop fall leaves on, and save myself that much in plastic costs. The whole thing will go into the firepit log pile this fall if I can get away with it. I want to whack up and burn the rest of the maple scrap sooner rather than later, but I'd rather keep the "good" maple for the indoor fireplace rather than junk wood. Apparently, fall storms are the best to keep wood from for mushroom logs. And now I have a new supply of thicker burnables for the rest of the season...
Cool beans.. While cursing all the frigging wild grapes entangling the weedy trees- I also discovered the neighbors are growing some sort of viney rose on the other side of the fence. I just let what wanted to drape over to do so, and I am hoping they will grow back and blossom next year. That would be a lovely break in the lilacs. We have a couple of scrounged pieces of rebar sitting, maybe I can rig that up into an additional support to ride the fenceline for now. Could be it is a really nice plant that I can keep creeping out with supports to make a nice arbor nook faced with the lilac bank in a few years.

Lilacs.. uncovered several starts while trimming... So now I know I have at least a couple varieties to dig up and toss into the solarium for spring planting. And I found out today that the Benton Harbor conservatory or extension (Chris weren't sure which) offered all sorts of lilac action every spring for dirt cheap. We agreed to let the other know if were were going in for something, and if the other was interested, split the package. Now I will need to hit those sites and check out what all they have for other cheapies. I might be able to get good seed and plants that are native and good for birds action for the firepit sanctuary. Also might find a whole handful of other treasures too :) We have a few wild trillium, but I would love to introduce more.

Speaking of introductions.. I think I can really help open up the boat launch without too much hell. Too soon to tell if it would be good otherwise, but I think I can yank back the shallow water plants without too much difficulty. And introduce some lily pads. I could swear I saw the speckling of white blooms all over the hidden pond to the south of us. If so, I might be able to get a few local plants to introduce to our pond. Still thinking on the pathway. I'm not mowing that far, but I think a good start would be tossing my cement casting scribbings down.
Once the grass has died down, I will go out and remove the willow starts. I want to do it now while it's kind of easier, but tick season is rampant. I bemoan the needing of bug spray, I am so spoiled, lol. The skeeters are liking me but require little spray. Those fucking ticks- found a second one yesterday, just wandering on my neck thank goodness, again. Today I sprayed twice while doing cleanup. Ticks are gross and nasty.
Anywho... I trimmed back the tall grass and weeds to start a green mulch layer along the east side of the arch drive and the trouble hill. Still need to dress up the west side of the arch, but so far, so good. Think since I found the miraclegro, I might give a sip all around. Run the hose on a trickle over the hill, and refill the ferts for the arch from there.
The heirloom doubledaffs will not be going to trouble hill. The hardy ivy still growing in the solarium will be introduced there, and seedums too if the task requires it. But I may end up with a handful of goblin eggs and scaloppini this season from the area anyway.

No, the truck hole still isn't filled in :(  It's not a swamp anymore either. Time to accept that I need to start filling the problem. I think some shoveling around will help fill the front wheels first. I'm gonna crack the fairy hill and give a tad more. Start trimming and making gateways in. The ditch lilies in the solarium are also almost ready to pull and replant too. Time to start soaking that corner of the pond, lol. The new rubber gloves they boys picked out for me will keep me well in the planting to come. And the new rubber boots I picked up from Target- six bucks on clearance, the only pair on the shelf, and in my size, small.
Slowly but surely...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

summer squall bites the pocketbook :(

Had a squall blow in Monday morning. Yeah, we lost power, till late last night.

Our neighbor David is super- awesome! We did without electric most of Monday, and were hitting the phonebook to start to look around for generator help Tuesday morning (rather dejectly I must add, since without power there was no coffee), when up walked David to our front door, offering us the loan of one of his generators till we got power. He's also going to give me the name and number of his tree guy so we can take care of the backyard, and the boys can finally play in their tree fort again. THANK YOU DAVID!!

We did have to spend quite a bit to get a good generator for ourselves. A nice kid at the store offered to drop it off after work for forty, and of course my love was smart enough to do it. Kid was honest as hell, found the place just fine and dropped it off ok :) We got it unpacked and hand tightened assembled, and dark was really on us. So we hiked it back to the solarium. We were doing our last bathroom and house securing done before killing our loaned generator for the night.. And the electric company had stopped a truck out front. So I skipped around to the office, and we went out and met the two guys who were doing a visual line check back to our transformer. I told them all the lines in the back were still hanging, and they got back on it at the road. So we killed the generator, and about 30 minutes later, the power came back on.

I do not miss Chicago, nor my home town right now. I've had better living and way way better local interactions here than anywhere else I lived since I was a kid.
I do dearly miss everyone I love though, they all seem so far away now. Geez, I got family that stays no more than thirty minutes away from me.. Somehow this place still feels surreally disconnected. I still can't believe our good fortune.

BTW, I have family traveling.. both on a lot of local trips and much longer hauls over greater waters.. Safe travels to all of you. May your paths be full of wonder and lacking of any anguish or drama. I recommend listening to the Sunscreen Song...

I would also recommend another video, not sure how many can show in a post yet, starting with one :)

Sadly, the emergency with the generator pretty much tapped us, so no wagon for the lawn tractor for a while. On the bright side, hauling everything a tarp load at a time to the firepit or compost pile sure is a good workout!! Maybe I'll ask everyone for gift certificates to the farm shop, home depot, and amazon books this year for christmas. It would sure go a long way to help fill in some gaps we got going on. I will for sure be getting at least a wheelbarrow soon, maybe I can weasel one for my birthday, lol.

As time goes on, I feel the pressure of our needs for a cheap pickup too. We could have carted the generator back ourselves then. And shoot, if it was good for it, I could use the truck bed to do the whole yard wood pickup at once and back down to the firepit. And provide a stable base for higher ladder action. The spacing of the trees will allow it I think, I will try to keep it that way. Late fall will see some heavier pruning than cleanup has been so far.
And yack, we will need a second generator setup for the other side of the house too. And a furnace for this side of the house too before long. Pttht, the paperwork side of growbox hill isn't as fun as the other stuff.

Anywho, so today was a lot of yard cleanup. Pick up sticks, mow the lawn. Finally got the backyard cleaned up for a high pass. Still got a lot to cut up though. Got tons of brush to burn off. Sweet, finally getting to the point of some stackable logs to cut up and let cure for the 2012 winter months. Picked a whole bunch more mulberries and several red raspberries. Picked two of the three poppyseed pods. After the third one dries enough, I'll collect that too, then split the seed with Chris. It's a terribly fine seed, hard to tell it from the chafe. But it will get sprinkled back into it's place next spring :)

Tippy and friends: Cept the chicken wallows. Mr. Tasty and his girls were out wandering around me when I was doing stuff in the backyard. I separated him from his girls on accident, and did he crow about it, lol. And they were all clucky at me when I hit the mulberry tree. I wasn't sure if I was stealing their shade or grub, so I tossed a couple berries I accidentally picked too hard, and they ignored me and headed for home. On my way back in I saw the obvious wallow spots. I will keep those open, and I think that area will see the first calcium trough.
And I heard a new animal noise today. From the pond area, more birdish than anything else. Will keep an ear out for it now.

Fishing this weekend past wasn't awesome. The boat plug leaks, so I gotta take a look at that. And apparently the casting from our side isn't all that great. I'm a bit leery to whack at the edge the boat wallow made. It's such a healthy environment that I think I would really have to set some death to make the area fishing clear. I'll have to come up with a plan for at least boat launching. Time to get final confirmation on the boat from David, then keelhaul the thing if I get the OK. It's just a basic rower, and in aluminum to boot, so it should be pretty easy to outfit. We just got the lifeneckers, I can probably get the foam and fabric cheap for making buoyant cushions too. I can just hang out for the fall sales on summer stuff like that, and make them before the lake thaws again. If I can keelhaul it, it's likely going to be the first project worked on in the pole barn.
The sawhorses are shabby, but they will work ok till I get a new set cut up. I think there might be enough salvaged 2x4 action to make two sets, which would be perfect. Tee-hee, if I measure it right, I can make a perfect quad set. Think the hardware for it isn't too bad either pricewise. Maybe I will end up with scrap for proper bracing without hardware.

TIP OF THE DAY: When you buy a generator, keep in mind that the battery, power cable to hook up the generator to your house, oil, and gas are not part of the deal unless it EXPLICITLY says any of those things are included on the box or by sale promotion on the behalf of the store. Make SURE you check the generator for these things before you get back home. Apparently those are (%$(*$#*#))^&* giggle jerks) nice lil add ons to the purchase of the generator itself. Most places that sell the generator sell those parts too.

OTHER TIP OF THE DAY: Use screws when you can to join parts. Use nails more when finishing or when vibrations and weights concerns don't apply so much. When using dowels, ALWAYS use a spludge of glue in the hole first. If using shims, a light coating of glue before tapping in does not hurt either. Smear the tapped out glue to smooth out he ridgeline of what it's gluing together.

And hey, if other people are reading this.. Could ya comment sometimes please? I'm not sure how much of this is more journal and less public sometimes. If you have a favorite plant, or good source, speak up. If you know the original link to something I talk about and didn't include, post it :)
If you have links to stuff that helps out self sufficiency, post it up. If you just want to say, hey, keep up the good work, that helps too :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

As summer gently rolls

Got a large portion of the weed trees down by the raspberries whacked down today. Yeah, they are making quite the heap along the fence line now. By the time I'm done cutting down the other half, it should stretch quite a ways up the fence line. Who needs black plastic to smother the grass under garden row when I can just let all the branches sit to dry there? After I'm done clearing, it's just a simple task to relay the wood, then in with the raspberry transplants from the rest of the yard. I will have to snip suckers for a while off what stump action is left though. Ah well.

Got the stakes in along the arch drive, which is good. I almost air blasted them mowing the lawn last weekend, lol. Now that the stakes are in place, I know where to align the closed side of the deck.

Got the first batch of mulberries picked and dried. Still got lots and lots to go on the tree. Looks like there will be at least a goodly month of picking there. I will use them reconstituted in muffins and pancakes over the winter, yay! Sadly, not one single motherlorn cherry is still on any of the cherry trees, I have no idea why. The peaches are coming along questionably, but the pears are looking spectacular so far. The apples are sort of iffy- some of them look great, some of them for sure will need to be pressed instead.

Harvested quite a bit of daisy seed today. Sadly, I spilled half of it twice while gathering, lol. Once I caught my hand on a plant, and the second time something big as hell landed on my hand and bit me, making me jump. I will have to go out a couple more times for more seed gathering, there's plenty there still ripening. Gonna sprinkle that seed along the open line of the firepit sanctuary. The wild carrot in the yard is coming along well too thankfully. There should be enough seed for mixing with the daisy seed and still have some for the spice shelf.
The chicory is blooming like mad. It looks quite striking alongside the ditch lilies. I can hardly wait to start digging up roots for roasting. The plantains in the FoH garden are slowly ripening, but I think there's enough of them to really make a nice fill in for next year if I broadcast the seed carefully.

There may be a blackberry growing in the yard- one of my friends pointed it out when visiting. She also confirmed the lilacs growing in the FoH garden, so yep, those are going to get dug up for along the easement drive. Now that most of the ditch lilies are all blooming, I get to look forward to transplanting most of them to the drive in a few weeks too.

We have had a couple of good bonfires from all the maple scrap. Actually cleared a whole pile of the stuff now, and working on the big pile finally. Took a bit to get the fire going for the fourth, but it was pretty nice once it got going. We lit off a bunch of the little fountain fireworks in the driveway- it was cool.

Got some good advice on how to deal with the spookies on the property during the weekend too. Mom dang near gave me a heart attack with her fade out while we were discussing it. I will have to remember not to bring it up with her around anymore, I have forgotten that she is more frail now, and that can be a bad thing with her being as sensitive as she is. We got a full moon coming up next week, so I'm thinking of doing an offering that night :) I can hardly wait till we get the chainsaw action done on the fallen maple so I can have my outdoor altar down in the firepit sanctuary. I think it will be rather nice for offerings.

Tippy and friends are doing well, running all over. The chickens are happy that I've cleaned up the back patio- they were scratching and dust bathing back there today. Saw a turtle in the tall grass while collecting daisy seed today too. Heh, kind of spooked me at first because it moved so close to me. He was pretty big, larger than my spread hand. But I knew better than to pick it up without gloves. Those guys can have some icky stuff on them that isn't so good for humans. The white cat has become an almost nightly visitor to the patio door, much to Pookums dismay. He sits on the stair landing and hates on white cat, and white cat sits and messes with Pookums. I know there's nothing to be done about that, so Pooks will just have to learn to deal with it.

Nothing much going on in the tec front. My love has been working on other stuff. So have I, making other crafty stuff. Almost got the costume room cleaned up enough to start working on the altar in there too. Found a good design for a DIY pantograph, so I want to blow up a fantastic celtic pentacle I have for an altar cloth. Good thing I have the large standing hoop to stretch the fabric on. Honestly, it's kind of nice having a season break from faire so I can work on making other stuff, lol.

Food- hmmm, been dinking off and on with food. Just picked up some rather interesting cookbooks, so I'm looking forward to making some stuff out of those. Mostly rustic foods, with a rather nice seafood one, and an interesting non-alcolholic drinks one. The summer salads quests have been sort of meh. I did do a rather tasty dish of green beans and yellow squash in bacon fat to go along with steak- super yummy and freshly picked from a local produce place.
Garlic potatoes too- super easy. Coarse chop some unpeeled potatoes, cream a large clove of garlic per potato, a bit of salt and pepper, some butter to lube it all up, toss, and bake till the potatoes are soft and yummy, all garlic stinky.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just stuff

Got my bow saw, it's a 21 inch. Rips through branches right fine. Starting to make a serious dent in the downed maple now. Sigh, if only it would stay rain free for long enough for me to get some serious burning done. One of the oak branches is now down, the other two not so much. The dead maple branch stuck up in the canopy hasn't shaken loose yet either. Ah well, it will come.

Started transplanting the ivy starts that are left in the solarium, which is nice. Gonna have to soak that dirt before I can dig out the rest though. Yeah, the pond is dry as a bone now, but so is the dirt around it, and it's hard as a rock. But I do have three kinds under the fir spot where I want them, I sure hope they take!

Got the first set of the iris beds in too. Trimmed out all the dead stuff of the pretty weed bush under the pine by the magnolia. Dug out all the irises, the big sky blue ones, from the area out front by the raspberries. If where I dug them from is any indication, they should do well- they were in total shade, now they are in partial sun. There ended up being quite a bit more of them than I thought, so I was able to really do a nice bed. The heirloom double glads aren't quite died off yet, so those will wait for their transplant.

Had to trim out a lot of wood down by the raspberries too. Sadly, a couple oak saplings had to go- they are directly under the power lines, so I couldn't leave them to grow :( Got a goodly pile of trim sitting now, and I'm not looking forward to making a few more piles like that down there. But it is seriously overgrown and under the power lines. And blech, I need to do some major weeding down there before I can start transplanting the random raspberries from the rest of the yard there. Good news is, most of em are showing their fruit heads, so it will only be a few weeks now till I know if they are all the same for sure or not.

And fucking hell yeah!! The mulberries are coming into ripe!! Ate my first one yesterday. Came off good, but still not quite sweet. Good thing I'm hitting Racine next weekend, need to get the dehydrator from my sister so I can start processing them. The orchard is coming along rather well too, I can actually identify everything now, lol. The cherries look to be the next to be ready. One of the apple trees got some pretty scarred apples forming- guess I'm gonna have to plan on pressing this year instead of next year. But the pears are looking good so far. The peach is sort of meh, but then it does need a goodly pruning.

The sunflowers, corn, and squash on the trouble spot are doing well. The cauliflower is still tiny. The squash and pumpkins along the arch drive are finally coming in enough that it's time to put in some stakes so I don't accidentally mow them down. lol, that reminds me, need to fix that stupid tire on the mower.

Not much to report from Tippy and friends. I'm seeing them all, and of course hearing Mr. Tasty, but nothing too interesting. Sadly, one of our orphaned raccoons is now dead. Looks to have been hit by a car by the end of our driveway. Haven't seen hide or hair of the other one, hope it's ok. Looks like only one cygnet made it this year too. And yeah, the hummingbirds are hanging out. They are frigging loud for such tiny critters.

There's stuff going on in the tec front.. But nothing really to do with Growbox Hill. Everyone should hit Thingiverse though, all kinds of good stuff!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Starting to balance

Think I'm figuring out I'm not wonderwoman in the yard, lol. Just taking it sort of easy, puttering for an hour or so, then taking a break.. rinse and repeat :)

Got the rest of the front and side yard de-twigged. Gonna have a nice lil fire tonight :) Seven paper bags of twigs in the pit, and a modest heap of branches to burn. Still got way more to burn too, but it's a start. Still got more than plenty to haul down for the solstice next week. Crap, I can't believe we are already upon the solstice. Gee, goodbie lengthening days, hello prepping for the coming winter. Woo-hoo ripening time for the earth!! And lol, still have enough cleaning and burning for the next couple holidays too :) With any luck, the firepit will be built up to use all times of the year.
Cleared out even more weeds from the FoH garden. At this point.. I know our drive is big enough, I'm just letting the greens die where they lay before they go to the compost heap. Discovered all sorts of growing action under the weeds :)

Discovered a couple mulberry trees in the yard, will have to dig those up and see if anyone wants em. Got a couple lil firs too that I think are worthy of potting up and letting sit for a while, they are the tall skinny kind- gonna give those away too. I just hope someone wants them.
I think I have long leaf plantain too, but I need to take some pics and confirm with a friend that I know knows his plantains.
Several more raspberry sproutlings to go into the patch in front. Looks like next year the patch will come up pretty darn good if I can get transplants to take.
Pretty sure I got some baby lilacs coming up in the FoH garden too. Gonna dig em up and start the easement drive line. Since all that is tall grass right now anyway, I know I won't mow the stupid things down, lol.
Gonna start a tad of the ditch lily line too. Got a handful of em I want to dig up and toss into the fenceline between the easement drive and neighbors fence. After the ones in the solarium finish their bloom, those are coming up and going in the corner where the easement drive meets the road. Still have to wait for a while before the rest of them flush. In a few years, a plush ass line of greenery will line the road and easement drive. If I can get a hold of water irises, I want to mix those in too. At this time those are buyable, and not already in the yard for free.. so they can wait :)

Nope, the effing truck hole in my yard still hasn't gotten fixed. I think if the weather is good midweek, I'm gonna fill it in myself. I know I've intended to before this.. but crap, I need to be able to mow that area.
It's looking good to be transplanting some ivy soon too. The area under the pines where I want to transplant the crap in the solarium to looks pretty free of moss, so it should just be dig, move, and water.
Solarium.. The alge pad is almost dry in the pond, so soon it will be time to work in there again. I think the current pad had too much "other stuff" to be useful for pressing. But since I'm not positive what is going to happen with the pond yet, just the outside of it. I think it may be our first alge growing area.

Now that the twiggies out front are clear, I can mow.. Just gotta fix the flat front tire on the lawnmower. Yeah, used the effing replacement once, and I managed to damage the new one too. Just gotta love my luck :) I'm hoping with time, the spirits already living here come to understand that I do want to do good, and to quit picking on me.

Effing mosquitos.. Mother lorn skeeters like me here apparently. One place on the planet where they will pay attention to me, and it's where I live :( Lucky for me their bites still do little but annoy at the moment. Crap, if they are willing to eat me, I gotta do something for everyone else that skeeters do already like. 
I will be looking for every packet of marigold seed once they go on sale. I was already planning on planting them heavily around the firepit. Now it's gonna be a mission, lol. I'll just mow the border areas this year.. But next spring, I'm gonna lay in the seed thick as hell around the perimeter. It might by the right time of season now to pick up a cheap flat of plants and see if they will take too.

FYI: Tansy is listed as great for anti skeeter action. It is also listed as being a honey poison too. Not killing bees, but the resulting honey is poison to humans. So that will not be something that will be planted in the yard on purpose.

I think for sure I will be dumping rocks found in the yard around the firepit ring. Apparently the yard is made up of sand, clay, and gravel. And tree roots, lol. I need to get out to HD and pick up a handful of 5 gal buckets for this. I wanna leave a handful all over for rock collection as I do gardening. As I get as much as I can carry, take it down to the firepit area. Prolly some into the easement drive too- there are some serious dips in the thing! There are some kind of too big rocks too, those are gonna get collected separately. I figure I can dump those down in the sanctuary for a while and use as needed.

It is kind of good that I have to be taking the yard in pace. I wanted to take the first full year to watch the yard and start to really figure things out. So far, I've been able to start second year planning already, which is totally awesome!
I am very optimistic about Growbox Hill being able to succeed. We settled into a mature property rather than a fresh one, and boy, there is some catching up to do.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yes, seeds can happen

After a couple weeks of pretty much nothing.. Mostly because I managed to get myself punched in the forehead by an oak tree while doing the lopping on the maple that fell down in the back yard. Followed up by a slip and smack into a wall in the house the day after. Been a couple weeks recovering from that one, I must of actually done some damage, lol.

Anywho. Building it back up again. Got a lot of the windstorm damage gathered up. While toddling around a bit today, I checked on some areas I sowed seed in.
On the trouble spot slope- a few of the seeds took. There some lil squash plant action going on, yay!
The sweet corn next to the chicken pad? Got a few inches in several of them :)
The cauliflower has mixed success. The shadier area looks like it got some sprouting, the sunner patch not so much.

The popcorn scattering by the raspberry patch seems not to have taken :( I scattered them at the same time I did the sweet corn, and haven't seen anything.
I think it's too soon to start hunting squash seedlings along the arch drive.
nor have the leafy greens seed scattered in the FoH garden had success. I think I'm gonna end up putting some permanent spreadable in the whole area and mulch heavily. Maybe bushy berries that tolerate shade well. The whole dang thing is just too weedy, grassy, and most important, full of effing gravel and roots to ever properly cultivate. But the line of ditch lilies on the bottom of the wall looks good. The hostas that are coming back are pretty much at the wall line, and will look good too once they plump in more.
Ditch lilies.. Gall dang it, yep, a big part of the stand blooming in the solarium is ditch lilies. Those effers are coming out and becoming the first ones into the ditch along the road and easement drive. There's a pretty smaller yellow one too, and that one is getting transplanted for flavor. The tall fancy one will go elsewhere. The ivy that's popping back up I got a place for too, between the two firs where only weeds grow now. Gonna coax it up the slope to back the top of the hill behind the ditch lilies by the house.
In good solarium news, the algae has almost totally dried in the pond, making a nice thick cracked sheet for me to pick up and remove. That will be very good for the compost pile.

Kind of too soon to tell what's taken or not in the firepit sanctuary. There's for sure sunflowers starting to peek up in the ugly mud patch.. I can only assume other stuff is coming up, just lost in the tall grass. The daisies and red headed clover are in full bloom down there, big fat heads. I'm checking them for shaking off when they are ready. The roses along the fence have turned out to be lovely little pink ruffled ones. And the ones by the pond are indeed little white briar roses. Wow, the willow seedlings are taking over that area though, I gotta thin those out!!

Aww, The passing of Buffy

Sad to say that apparently the neighbor chicken Buffy passed. I hadn't seen her in several days, and I happened to be out to ask the neighbor about it. She said Buffy died peacefully in the henhouse.. was just lying there. She had a burial.

In other critter news, the female orioles are hitting the oranges more now. I assume that means eggs are hatched, and wee orioles can now be left alone for bits of time.

Some of the hummingbirds are starting to look like their ruby throats are coming in. Still a few that are all downy grey though.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Well, the winds kicked in at quarter to twelve last night. We lost power till eightish this morning. And we got more storms coming in right now.
We got winds clocked at 55, it was fierce! Most of the heavy raining and lightning parts of the storm apparently split and we didn't get the worst of it.
Lots of little branches down.. and one of the maples in back had half of it split off into the yard. Thankfully it didn't hit anything and landed off the neighbors drive.

Since I found the camera charger, I was able to take pics of it.

The rest of the maple standing looks ok and not too off kilter, so I think it will just need it's wound cleaned up and sealed. Now we need to get a stupid chainsaw. Geez, I hope that's the end of it for this episode. At least the homeowners insurance is up to date just in case the wind blows in the wrong way next time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ah, liquid refreshment

It's that time of year when drinking extra liquids is important.. And cold ones required :)

There's a few beverages I like to keep in the fridge. And since we now have a working icemaker, we sure have been using it :) I grew up in a low sugar household, so I prefer my drinks less sweet.

So, number one. Water. Just plain ole tapwater is good. Fill a glass with ice, and filler up with water.

Two. Iced tea. Yum. I like to take 6-8 teabags, clip them together and hang them in a gallon pitcher, fill with water, and set in the hot sun for a couple hours. I like various berries, zingers, and chais best for iced tea. I stay away from traditional blacks and greens because it gets bitter fast.

Three. Lemonaide. One cup each sugar and lemon juice in a gallon pitcher. Fill with water and stir it up. I like to slice up a fresh lemon and sometimes a lime to toss in. If I make a party sized batch, I like to slice up a couple lemons and limes, and an orange and a grapefruit to toss in.

Four. Kool aide. The packet says one cup sugar per packet. Not me. Two packets, one cup sugar, gallon pitcher.

Five. Juice. I tend to get frozen concentrates when they are on sale, anything non citrus. (I prefer my citrus "fresh") I leave it on the counter till it's thawed, and almost always add at least a half a can more water than the instructions.

Six. Alcohol. Yep, theres something just good about a cold fizzy brew on a hot afternoon. Drink responsibly. Keep in mind that 12 oz of alcohol drink does not hydrate ya like 12 oz of non alcohol.

And in my opinion. Stay away from sugary soda. Stuff isn't good for you. Don't use sports drinks unless you are actually working it that hard. Try eating a pickle or having some tomato juice or V8. Those too have the stuff your body is losing, but on more natural levels.

Keeping it cold:
Using insulated and freezable beverage containers is always great. Sometimes ya just gotta use ice.
Don't want to water it down like that? Make ice cubes of the beverage. Dilute whatever by about a quarter more, pour into tray, and freeze. If you use straight lemon or lime juice, it only takes a little juice to flavor a lot of ice cubes.
For "fancy" ice cubes for presentation. You can freeze citrus sections, mint and other herb leaves, small edible flowers..

Monday, June 6, 2011


There's lovely little flowers blooming in the birdfeed hill area. Need to go check those out. But feeling under the weather today.

Saw a pair of baby coons wanderingin the cut grass side along the easement drive today. They were cute as hell, just picking in the grass for I dunno what. The camera on the phone not good enough... gotta find the charger for the camera. Thought what I heard last night was coons squabbling. With some listening on the web to the scrapping sounds I heard late last night and seeing a pair of juveniles in the yard today confirmed it.

Food- a couple of quart bags of tomato meat sauce from the freezer, a can of chick peas, a couple cups of frozen spinach. A cup and a half or so of dry pasta. T or two of fat. I tend to do about 1-2 1/2 cups of sauce stuff per quart bag.
Bring chick peas to a boil in salted water- boil for 5 min or so.
bring down heat and not quite simmer for 10 min
bring back to boil, add pasta. Cook pasta till al dente.
Drain beans and pasta.
Add fat to boiling kettle. After it melts, add spinach.

While this is going on, defrost bags of sauce in the nuker or under hot water till the contents melt enough to put into the pan. Or if using canned, pop the lid and set it aside.

Completely heat the spinach in the fat. Add in the sauce, and heat totally again. Toss sauce well with chick peas and pasta.

MMMM, I got a couple big feed dishes coming up.. Gonna have to plan and post about it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Just some weedin and seedin

Whew, apparently I cooked my back a bit yesterday. Got sunblock and still can feel the cook in the sun today.

So, it's been some in the shade work today. Got the poppy bed on the south side of the solarium weeded out. Crap there was a ton of viny bits to yank out. But I did find a second poppy among all those weeds. I'm gonna keep my eye on them and snatch that seed when it's ready. It will be re-broadcast all along the same area. Think I might dig up the bulb action that's there and move it to the east side of the solarium. Really encourage the poppy bed to become lush again.
Tee-hee.. had an odd find while weeding there, a pair of handcuffs.
This does confirm that I have to put the breadseed poppy bed somewhere else. Not quite sure where yet.
I'm thinking maybe using them for part of the border to mark off the edge of where the steel box area will be. Or lol, probably more accurately, the edge of the orchard that I can't plant past :)

Got the well patch fairly well cleared out. Planted in all the cauliflower seed I had. Violet, green, yellow, a pointed romanesco.. And scattered a couple types of whites on the edges. Hopefully something will come up. cleared a section of tall grass by the chicken pad, and plunked in some sweetcorn. Scattered some red and brown popcorns down by the raspberry patch.

Don't think there will be any root crops this year. I'm starting to think the only area fairly free of root crap is where veggie row is planned. So, looks like next year at least for that.

Anywho, now it's time to feed the birds.. And us too. Still got a ton of veggie salad fixings in the fridge, so I think it's veggie salad and chicken fingers for dinner tonight.

I like..
a cucumber, peeled
3-4 roma tomatoes
couple peppers, and color works
some minced onion and garlic
handful of fresh mushrooms
A carrot or two, maybe shredded.
Some olive oil, italian herbs, s+p..
Let chill for an hour or two to self marinate.

Made super easy honey mustard for the chicken..
3-4 heaping spoonfuls of mayo
couple big squirts of grainy yellow mustard
a teaspoon drizzle of honey
bit of salt and white pepper
half tablespoon or so splash of lemon juice
dash of Worcestershire sauce
mix well :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yay sunshine!

Just been puttering...

Got a few of the knotwork edgers done. They look pretty nice. Still not down pat on the ratio, but I'm settling in around 10 cups mix to 2 cups water or so.
I figure the knotwork ones will be for edible trees.. And I'm going to build a set of plain forms to make edgers for the rest of the trees. I figure it's a handy "secret" signal.. And let's me make more than one stupid edger at a time, lol.
And yay, we do indeed already have irises :) Got some bronze and yellows and yellow throated purples in the border behind the solarium. There is a stunning large sky blue one down in the raspberry area.
So now I got all sorts of fun bulb action to dig out of that area and move to another. It's a shame all those beauties are lost down there now.
And hey, the poppies are blooming. There's only a few of them, the flowers are huge, bright orange, and purple throated. Now I know what to weed, I need to hit that patch and clean it up.
Still don't have the FoH beds fully weeded out. Just been too uninspired to do that kind of weeding, lol.
Most of the fruit trees are now in fruit set. I can tell what the cherries are now. Still not quite sure what else is what yet, the fruit sets look awfully alike. The mulberry in back? Bursting with fruitset! Can hardly wait till they ripen. The raspberries are going from flower to fruit set now, so hopefully I will be able to positive ID those over the next month or so.
Nada on the chestnut trees so far.
My love helped me plug a whole packet of mixed pumpkin/squash seed along the arch drive. We shall see if anything comes up. I didn't see anything popping up on the trouble spot, which bums me out. I figured the fresher seed would have at least sprouted by now.

And no, the truck hole in my front yard is still not fixed. Starting to figure I'll have to do it myself. Sort of pisses me off. But that neighbor did mow the two front sections of my yard for me today, so I'm mollified for the moment.

Met the north neighbors last weekend. Very large family! They seem cool. So I figure I'm ok to proceed with my plans for veggie row. I gotta at least start getting plastic down- less mowing the better, lol.

Yep, they replaced my mower. Went to mow today, damn thing would die every time the brake was released. Figured out through some internet searching that the culprit was.. The safety switch under the seat wasn't plugged in. After I plugged it in, worked great!
Got the path to the firepit mowed in. The neighbors asked if I was gonna mow the whole thing, and I told them nope, growing it out for the birds. I think they think I'm a bit nuts between that and making my own edgers.

Got the seed separated out to start testing hydroponically. There's a couple legumes in the heap that I'm a bit concerned about after killing off a couple batches of tom thumb peas. We are going to try flat out spray first. If we keep running into wet feet problems, we are gonna try the baskets with clay pellets in them style growing. I think it would be tits wiggle if I can bring fresh veggies to the christmas table this year.. I'm hoping it will happen.

The solarium pond is finally starting to dry out. Hopefully soon it will be worth getting out there and doing the next round of cleanup. I'm thinking I might have to get yet some more materials, and do a few of the screenless windows with velcro mounted screens. 3 screens out of 20 on the outside walls just don't cut it. Gets so hot out there condensation forms on the house side windows.
But the lilies are flowering before anything outside. One is tall and rather pretty. I swear if the ones that look like ditch lilies prove to be, they all getting pulled and dumped in the water strip.

The chickens are happy the grass is shorter I think. Been seeing them in the yard more again.. well, when it hasn't been frigging pouring that is. Mr. Tasty was having himself a crowfest the other day, and Ruby just stood by him looking like he was nuts. Apparently it's critter freak out time. The black squirrels have been chasing each other through the trees like mad, and the blackbirds have been flaking out all over each other. The hummingbirds have been zooming each other, and I got to watch a male goldfinch rather closely for a long time yesterday. He latched onto the bottom of the screen of one of the office windows and was watching my ass. lol, maybe they are trying to tell me to come out and play more. And the swans appear to still have two babies, they are getting bigger, and I think whiter too. There's more swans now on the pond to the south too.

On the tec front.. There's all sorts of tinkering around. The cool drip device is now a big ole mounted thing in the great room. Three coke bottles hung on printed out brackets.. feeding into lines that run through the cool printed off valve control. I'm starting to feel like the indoor feed and water upkeep is going to get way easier :)
There's also a cool modular bird feeder coming up. Printed out plates and pegs- snap together for any size feeder one wants. I can hardly wait to try that one out.
The fruit spikes are still working great, and holding up perfectly. I've found oranges work best on them, which is fine since that's the prime feeding fruit anyway.
I have found some squirrel proof bird feeder plans. Gonna build a couple and see just how proof they really are, lol.

On the food front... The quest for one of the top summer foods.. Salads. I found out one of the boys didn't like salads save a couple exceptions. Now I must make all sorts of delicious salads and teach the yumminess that falls under the title salads. I think I'm already starting to grasp what he isn't too keen on, and he is willing to try at least a taste. Ok, I make him at least taste. Lol, I've found myself telling adults the same thing too sometimes- how do you know you don't like it if you've never tried it?