Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blogging "Superwoman" Expose

This topic has been rolling around among the cobwebs in my mind for a while now.  After reading Miriam's post this morning over at My Country Cupboard, I knew it was time!

Spend any amount of time reading mama blogs and you are bound to begin to feel inferior, inadequate, lazy, undisciplined and exhausted.  How do they "do it all"?  Your house is falling apart, your children are dirty and talking back, you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer (oh wait, that's me... BRB!), the laundry is overflowing, but you still haven't folded the 3 loads you did yesterday, the kitchen floor needs mopping, but it is covered in toys and those cloth grocery bags you haven't taken back to the car (buy hey, at least you remembered to use them!)... sound familiar?


Let me tell you a secret about the bread-baking, organic-gardening, crafty, homeschooling, perfectly-decorated-and-always-clean-house, perfect-children, handsome-romantic-handy-husband, never-yells, gets-up-at-dawn, finishes-today-today, composts, recycles, always-looks-like-a-million-bucks, showers-daily SUPERWOMAN.  She only exists in blogworld (and on Facebook)!

Allow me to spend the next few minutes teaching you to read between the lines of the Superwoman Blogpost...

Superwoman posts:  I love spending the day in my garden!
Read:  I love spending the parts of the day I wasn't feeding kids, changing poopy diapers or cleaning up dog puke in the garden!

Superwoman posts:  The kids and I made this awesome dragonfly mobile from twigs and glitter today! (complete with photo that looks like a professional took it)
Read:  It took all day, but I finally managed to get this stupid mobile made in spite of the children's interference!  Now to find an e-how on getting glitter/glue out of dog fur.  Oh crap, my camera batteries are dead.  I'll just swipe the pic from the online tutorial...

Superwoman posts:  Tonight for dinner, we had poached chicken breasts with blackberry cabernet sauce, homegrown salad with homemade blackberry vinaigrette dressing and fresh milled whole grain bread.
Read:  I cooked all day and my kids ran amok.  We will have discipline issues for days and I may never get the sharpie out of the rug.

Superwoman posts:  We had our family portraits made today!  They turned out SO great!
Read:  After putting on every decent outfit in my closet and finding that only one fit, I had to choose different clothes for the entire rest of the family so we wouldn't clash.  We were 30 minutes late for our appointment and one of the kids sat in a mud puddle in the parking lot of the photo studio.  They took 700 photos and of those, only 5 were acceptable.  My eyes are closed in 2 of them.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Would any of us read the true life blog?  I might, just to make myself feel better...  Maybe I will post an "honest" post every now and then just to keep it real!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reclaiming My Kitchen!

My mom bought me this book to read to the kids... 

It is the story of the Beanbuckets family.  When the little boy Billy sneaks his favorite piglet into the house for the night, the other farm animals begin to join him!  Before long, the family has to move into the barn!  Sounds like someone is trying to tell me something.  Mama isn't usually the passive-agressive sort...

Well, Mama, you will be pleased to know, the coop is finished and the chickens have been evicted from the kitchen!!  I cleaned and mopped and we are smelling less and less like a barn!  I went out this morning and found the girls happily scratching around.  I had to take some photos for you!

One of the Golden Campines... I can't tell them apart anymore.
Sweet and friendly Isabella (Blue Andalusian).
The other Golden Campine, I think. ;)
Ruby Sue (Rhode Island Red) looking a little blurry as she runs past!
Golden Campine... still don't know which one.

Pippi (Welsummer)
How in the world did I get all 7 in the same picture? 
Hungry chicks!
I love the ladder!
Inside of the henhouse.
Nesting boxes.
Egg-door where, one day, I will hopefully gather eggs from my very own hens!
I need to paint the siding and around the door, but other than that, it's DONE!
Back of the coop.
Happy chicks!
 Next project is painting my kitchen!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Spring Garden Tour!

"May and June. Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months in the garden year: cool, misty mornings gently burned away with a warming spring sun, followed by breezy afternoons and chilly nights. The discussion of philosophy is over; it's time for work to begin."
- Peter Loewer

There has been much discussion of philosophy, for me, since last year's garden was planted.  When we arrived here at Hunter's Grove in late April, I said that I wanted to grow tomatoes and if I could have them in the 2010 summer, I would be happy to wait until the following year for a "real" garden.  Well, once I prepared a place for tomatoes, it was easy to add a little bit more space for corn, sunflowers, peppers, beans, cucumbers, and squash.  I did, and our whole family ended up loving gardening and helping with all the heavy lifting.

This summer, I have some new learning under my belt.  In studying Sustainable Agriculture, the concepts of 4-season harvesting and cover cropping have come home to my garden.  No more letting the garden succumb to nature during the fall and winter months.  No more wrestling it back into submission in the spring.  The garden was working all winter!  Cover crops of oats, winter rye and vetch held space and fed the soil of each garden bed while keeping weeds from growing!  Now those cover crops are ready to harvest and will become mulch or will feed my compost pile!

Winter Rye and Hairy Vetch (in flower).

 I also learned about crops that need to be planted in fall for a spring/ summer harvest.  My onions are nearing harvest time and garlic should be around the Summer Solstice.

Onions blooming and garlic in the background.

One project that is high on the priority list for this summer is to complete the cold frame and get some low tunnels to extend the harvest.  Even without the cold frame, I was able to overwinter carrots and lettuce with just mulch!  The key to winter harvest is starting your plants in the summer.

This lettuce was overwintered with heavy leaf/ straw mulch.  Compare it with the next photo of lettuce started in late February taken the same day.

Baby lettuce!
 My garden space has more than doubled this season.  I now have 12 3'x9' beds in rotation, for 324 sq. ft. of bed space.
These beds have butter beans, string beans, summer squash and cucumbers in them.

I also have a 3'x6' space that will hopefully be the cold frame this winter.

Peas and carrots in the "cold frame".
I will also have a permanent herb bed for perennial (and some annual) herbs... as soon as I get the spinach out of there!
Spinach growing in the "herb bed".

So there it is so far.  There will be more to come, I'm sure, as the season progresses!  I can't wait!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Outdoor Chicks... Almost!

The kids and I worked on the floor of the coop today.  We built the coop on a hill, so the floor had to be filled in on the side where it sloped.  When we finished, we brought the chicks out to play!  They seemed to like it out there.

We hope to put the finishing touches on the coop this weekend and reclaim the breakfast nook for dining!  The kitchen kind-of smells like a barn even though I am cleaning their bin daily.  Can't wait for them to leave the nest!

Isabella is the most curious and friendly of the bunch.

They managed to uncover a worm and eat it!

I am amazed by their size in 3 short weeks!


I thought of another reason you should cultivate a garden.  Because it is super convenient to send the girl out with a basket to pick a salad for dinner!

Eden picked our salad for dinner!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Top Ten Reasons YOU should Cultivate a Garden

I have always been a great lover of lists.  I love to write them, I love to read them, I love to save them, I love to mark things off of them and to combine several into one big list!  I was thinking about all of the reasons that anyone with a chunk of land (or a pot on the patio) would (could, should) benefit from keeping a garden.

10. Your physical health.  Tending a garden can provide you with a daily dose of exercise and vitamin D.
9.  Your mental health.  Research has proven that what my Mema always referred to as "Dirt Therapy" is real!  Gardening is beneficial for your mental health!
8.  Makes your world more beautiful.  Even if you decide to only grow veggies, plants are pretty and have flowers before fruit.  While veggie flowers aren't as showy as flowers grown specifically for their bloom, they can be lovely.  The fruit itself is often beautiful and colorful.  Plants grown for their leaves (lettuce, spinach and other greens) can be left to flower and you can save seed for next season!
7.  For the children.  They don't even need to be your children.  Kids love a garden (ask me how I know)!  Kids will find all sorts of ways to entertain themselves in a little patch of dirt.  From digging, to finding bugs and worms, to planting a seed and watching it grow... Oh, and they will try (and love) things like Brussels Sprouts when they planted the seeds and watched them grow.  Wouldn't you want to eat something that looked this cool as it grows?

6.  Education.  The funny thing about gardening is, the more you grow, the more you want to grow.  You learn something (sometimes a lot) every season you tend a garden.  When you have successes, you learn, when you fail, you learn even more!  You learn that gardening is a lot like life... 
5.  Successes and failures connect us with our food and the farmers.  When you discover that not everything grows well every season, you learn an appreciation for each potato you eat.  Each stand at the Farmer's Market represents someone's hard work (BEWARE: you may feel the need to buy something from each farmer once you begin to really appreciate all of their hard work).
4.  You can try unusual and heirloom varieties.  This one is fun!  Have you ever had a purple potato? A white radish?  What about a red and green striped tomato?  Grow an unusual variety this season.  Often heirloom varieties have superior flavor to the mainstream varieties (that were often developed for storage and transport, not for flavor).
3.  Your friends will love you for sharing your extras.  You will always have an abundance of something.  Everyone loves getting some free, homegrown produce!
2.  You will have a baseline of knowledge when/ if you need it.  You know, when the zombies attack, or Peak Oil causes food to be inaccessible, or when something happens to interrupt the food supply.  Preparedness is essential.  Those of us with experience growing food, saving seed, caring for the soil will have the tools to feed our own families and help others feed theirs.  Did you know that monoculture (farms only growing one variety of one crop) threatens to collapse the entire food supply?  Do you remember learning about the Great Irish Potato Famine?  When a blight destroyed the potato crop, the people starved.  What would happen if a blight affected corn in the US?  Look on the boxes in your pantry.  Are *any* of them free from corn?  Do you eat animal products?  Do you know what those animals eat?  Unless you are seeking out organic, grass-fed animals, they are not eating what God intended them to eat.  They eat corn.  Just spend a minute pondering how much of our sustenance depends on corn.
1.  You know what you are eating.   You can be sure that your crops are free from pesticides, harmful bacteria, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), slave labor (yes, slavery is alive and well in the world).  You know when your food was harvested, you were there!  You are sure to be getting the freshest possible food, superior in taste, quality and nutrition!

So, there you have it.  My top 10 reasons to garden.  Can you think of others?