Monday, June 29, 2009

Bench Monday - Sandlot Edition

Meet Helen.  She is the smallest out of our four hens.  For some reason, she likes me the most.   We are standing in a wagon that is filled with (literally) a ton of sand.  I would love to have an adorable little red chicken coop with a large run, but instead I have a small green woodland coop with a small detachable run.  We've found keeping a fresh layer of sand keeps the girls happy and the mud down.  Getting sand by the ton is WAY cheaper than buying by the bag.  Once it is soiled, we scoop out the sand and put it in a corner of the garden.  We'll add the compost later when it is time to till again.

Bubble gum boots, wet sand, and a chicken - A great way to spend a summer morning!  
Happy Bench Monday!

Summer Morning

My feet in the garden this morning.

Today was one of those days when I pulled on my "chicken pants" (blue plaid pants for $1.99 at the GW), slipped on my garden clogs, grabbed my robe and ran out the back door as soon as I woke up.  The neighbors can't see, but I don't think they would  mind.  They've been known to do the same thing!

Dad and his haul this morning
As I ran down the path to the garden, I bumped into Dad, who had just finished his round of picking blues.  Today's yield alone: 2.15 POUNDS of blueberries!  Mom freezes most of the berries in big pretzel containers and we enjoy them all year round.  Still finishing up last years berries..

Pink Beauty radishes are beauties! 

I am not a huge fan of radishes, but I've fallen in love with these lovelies.   

Yard sale string at the ready..

Tis the season to support your local tomato!  I don't know why, but I love staking up the tomatoes.  However, the aphids an I are going to have a close talk later.  Brewing up something special for them in the kitchen.  More on that later..

Zuch blooms this morning.

Had our first two zucchini yesterday.  One for us and one for Mom & Dad.  Tasted wonderful.   I think they grew again overnight after the summer shower last evening.

Wishing you all a wonderful day!  Back later with a bit of Bench Monday...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ramie Ruth

Today - I stray from blogging about the homestead.  I know you'll understand.

Photo of Ramie in Virginia 1999

I am no good at good-byes.  Never have been. 
Even as a kid.

She was adopted from a shelter when we lived in Virginia and had been my pal ever since.  She was definitely my girl.  Funny how they work their way into your heart.  Today's been hard, but I know she is in a better place now.

So long my little southern girl.
I'll miss you..
Ramie Ruth 1998 - 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Thrift store quilt on the clothesline - $4
It's officially BLUEBERRY SEASON!!
Had a handful of these delicious bundles of blue yesterday morning for breakfast.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Solar Critter Control

Sign made by Mom out at the Apiary.

When we started gardening a few years ago we knew from the start we were going to have to do something to keep the critters out.  My dad mentioned trying this solar powered electric fence.  They come in different sizes.  We chose one that will carry three miles of fence, but they can carry up to ten miles.  It charges on sunny days so when you flip the fence on...


..away she goes!  We run a line about waist high and another a few inches off of the ground.  There is a run around the garden, the apiary (after the bear) and now the orchard.  It's worked  really well over the past two years.  We did have issues with a ground hog eating off the sweet potatoes TWICE last year, but it keeps the deer out.  

Last week a deer got tangled up in the lower run around the orchard.  It took off with the fence handle too.  Dad got to wondering if maybe the battery was getting a bit low, so he borrowed a electric charge meter from The Farmer.

We went out last evening to check the fence.  No charge on the meter, but the fence was clicking away.  We went to the farthest point away from the fence box down in the orchard.  No charge on the meter.  

Well, at this point I wanted to know if the thing was working so I grabbed the fence... with my shoes on. You know where this is going.   Hmmm ..Little bit of a zing.  

Dad goes... "Take your shoes off."

P O W!

I am happy to report the fence is working fine.  Also, solar powered electric fences to power quite a shock.   If you are interested, we purchased our unit at our local Agway.

Not recommended for small children or those with pacemakers.

Little peak at the garden a month in - Potatoes in foreground, Tomatoes middle, Corn in far row.  Happy gardening!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Farms No Food

Things have been a little busy around here and I've gotten a little behind in my yogurt making.  Last week a purchased a few containers of Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt to get me through the week.  As I was eating lunch I noticed the No Farms No Food campaign on the yogurt lid for the American Farmland Trust.

It's no secret farms are disappearing in our area.  According the the American Farmland Trust web site, Pennsylvania is number six out of twenty states losing it's most prime farmland (Texas is #1, Ohio #2).  As the farms around here disappear, housing developments sprout.  

I am not usually a bumper sticker girl, but I couldn't stop myself from placing one of these on the tail end of my car.  

If you are interested you can get a free sticker here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bench Monday

Scrabble marathon on the porch this evening.  My aunt's feet this week for Bench Monday.  
She is such a good sport!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Country Mouse Goes to the City

With family visiting we decided to head in to the city to take in some of the sights...

We took the Duquesne Incline to the top to catch a (rainy) view of the city and the three rivers.

View from the bottom as the cars go to the top.

We also stopped at Clayton - the mansion of Henry Clay Frick.  The grounds and the house are amazing.  Above is a picture of the children's "play house" which now houses the gift shop and start of the tour.

There is a wonderful greenhouse on the property as well.  If you are ever in Pittsburgh, touring Clayton is worth the visit!  See you on Monday!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rain and the Basement

It has been raining and storming here all day.  Normally that isn't a bad thing, but when you have family visiting from Seattle, who are hoping for some warm weather and sun... 

I ended up in my parent's basement today as their hot water heater died and started leaking everywhere.  It reminded me of when I was little.  On rainy days when we couldn't go outside to play we would end up in the basement.  Refrigerator boxes turned into space ships.  Tent camps grew from the clotheslines.  The general store would appear on the cellar stairs with onions and canned goods.  Aprons and magic capes flew from the sewing machine.

This is a picture of the base to my fathers workbench.  There used to be chalk in one of the "C" drawers for me. Especially great for drawing pictures on the concrete basement floors on a rainy day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Apartment Gardening

A long time friend (thanks Theo!!) just reminded me about our apartment gardening days.  Between moving and starting new jobs we lived in different apartments for the first ten years we were married.  The gardening bug bit when we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia.  I thought I'd start with a few simple morning glories and was shocked when they took off to the second floor.

Apartment patio garden Charlottesville, Virginia.

Balcony apartment garden in Durham, North Carolina.

I thought I'd give them a whirl again when we moved to North Carolina.  The balcony went wild!  Morning Glories, Moonflowers, and Thunbergia.

You could spot our apartment out of all of them in the compound.  People would be walking along the sidewalk and would stop and call up to the balcony to say hello!  We love chatting to who ever came by.  I don't have much luck with the morning glories here.  I think they miss they sun, heat and humidity of the south.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chicken Bench

View of "chicken bench" area in barn lean-to.

You may be asking yourself.. what is a chicken bench?  Well, it is kind of a workbench/workstation my Mom set up for me in the lean-to of the barn.  Since our chicken coop is mobile, I really don't have a place to store chicken care items in the coop.  She set up this great twig table and shelf for me to use.   Feed container, poop-scoop container, garden mulch hauling container on bottom of bench.  Miscellaneous gloves for bees and gardening are clipped on a holder she made from clothespins.  Shelf holds beekeeping tools and a year-round poster of bee care.  I fell in love immediately.  

Thursday, June 11, 2009


A few shots from the garden yesterday.  Spent the day outside mulching with yet another load (thanks Mr. S.) of grass clippings.  Enjoyed the warm, humid, mostly cloudy day with no rain... maybe rain today?

Beegirls were hopping!  I could hear them buzzing from the far end of the garden.

Bamboo tomato stakes.  I love these darn things.

Potato rows..before the weeds set in!

Zucchini bloom.

Beet, beets and more beets!  Thinned, weeded, and mulched.  Can't wait for these babies!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Morning in the Garden

Favorite path going to the garden.

My most favorite thing to do on a summer morning is to grab a cup of coffee, run out the back door, and head to the garden.  I love to watch the sun stream through the trees and listen to the birds wake up.   The summer humidity feels and smells good before the heat of the day sets in.   The ladies get let out of the coop and wash goes up on the line.  It's a great way to wake up!

Garden this morning - with coffee - before weeding.

It is coming up on week three in the garden.  The zucchini are blooming.  Thanks to Dad who hilled the potatoes!  Trying a new mulching system this year.  Recycled news paper with grass clippings on top.  My mother-in-law saved us a stack of newspaper this winter and we've been taking small wagon loads of grass clippings from the neighbor.  Seems to be working well so far.  Now that the seeds are up I can lay the strips of paper closer to the rows.  Ran out of grass clippings today, but called the neighbor..will be heading over there tomorrow for another load!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bench Monday

It's late in the day.  The sky is overcast and spitting rain.  I worked last night and have had about two hours sleep today...then I realized - It's Monday.  

I didn't want to miss Bench Monday.

Why the buckets?  We are hoping to harvest some honey at the end of the month and I've been on the hunt for food grade plastic buckets with lids.  I started looking last Monday, which as it turns out, most of our local bakeries are closed on Monday.  Took a chance while doing errands in Costco and scored a few large buckets from their bakery.  We will pour the honey from the spinner into the buckets, then we can strain it (removes any bits of wax), and pour it into jars.

Happy Bench Monday!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rain Chain

Pine cone rain chain on Mom's studio.

My Mom made this adorable little rain chain out of pine cones to hang on the corner of her studio.  It has been cold, overcast, and rainy here for the last week.  The garden is mud.  Of course I had to go in anyway and sunk up to my ankles.  The potatoes are looking great and I am happy to report the corn is up!  So instead risking a shot in the muddy garden, I leave you with the rain chain instead.  Have a great weekend!  See you on Monday...

A Blushing ...thank you!

Pink lily-of-the-valley.

Thanks to:

for the lovely blog award she gave to me!
(I'll be back later to share the love there...)

Karen at Beelieve -
for the lovely mention on her blog and featuring my Bench Monday photo!

for including me in the farm girlz buzz!

My most sincere thanks to all of you who stop by to visit me at The Burbs and on Flickr.  It is an honor to get to know all of you!  I am grateful everyday for all the wonderful people I've met along the way.  Thanks for all your support with the "girls" and I am flattered that you make us a part of your lives.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meant to be

It's no secret.  I love a good yard sale.  Actually, I love anything second hand - yard sale, thrift store, antique shop, flea market, hand-me-downs, Salvo, Goodwill, you name it!  Forget the expensive upscale antique markets.  The junkier (is that a word?) the better, I hate to say!  Maybe it's the thrill of the hunt?  Finding treasure in trash? Recycling - I say!!

As I was web surfing this week I came across a post on Under the Big Blue Sky .  She had posted a movie trailer for Julie and Julia  (based on the book by Julie Powell) that should be coming out later this summer.  After watching the clip, I realized I had picked up the book months ago for $1.99 at a thrift shop and had it in the avalanche of "to-read" books on my night stand.   Last night I pulled it out and started to read it.  So far it is wonderful!

My mom and I got up early this morning and went to our neighbor's annual garage sale.  It has to be one of my all time favorite sales.  They don't price anything and accept a "donation" for what ever you pull out of the rubble.  The proceeds are donated to our local children's hospital.  Every year they post a sign with how much money they raised.  Last year the sign read over $11,00

I pulled Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume I off one of the tables this morning.  If I hadn't started reading Julie and Julia, I would have walked right by it.  Julie's book is based on this collection of recipies.  I flipped open the jacket cover and the previous owner had written her name and the date on the inside.  It was my EXACT birthday - even down to the year!  This book was meant to be mine.  Maybe we'll have Potage Parmentier for dinner tonight.... 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bench Monday: beekeeping edition

Fell in love with this group on Flickr and couldn't wait to jump in the fun!  

Happy Bench Monday everyone!