Monday, August 31, 2009

Holy Moley - I've got corn!

I'm so new at this, I'm surprised when something works!
I bought a 6-flat at the local Agway when I was picking up eggs and my mother put them into the ground in mid-to-late June. We weren't sure whether to split the shoots or not, so didn't. Out of the 6 things planted, only 2 are left. But as you can see, this one has at least 3 stalks. And ta daaah - 3 ears of corn.
It was a raucus night last night at the BHH house, resulting in 2-1/2 mice in the trash can. I don't know if I'll ever encounter the other half of the third one. I hope not. Lots of noise around 4:15 am as Maggie was trying to help one of the cats with a mouse. I turned on the light and saw the first one. Then Maggie presented the second one, not quite dead. The third half mouse was there for me in the morning. Maggie is learning from the cats how to kill mice!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's OK, the Loggers Won't Ruin the Place

Here you see the business end of the log skidder, and one day's work for them! According to them, this equipment is incapable of clear cutting. It is made to pull logs out, one or two at a time. In one short day they've re-made an old path/road almost all the way to the southern end.

I walked around yesterday and took about 60 'before' pictures. Here's an example one that's pretty representative. Rocks and trees and nothing green growing on the ground. (Thanks Linda for the suggestion about what to plant! I'll contact the extension service next week.)

Peanut Gallery

Looking out the front door to the north, over the garden the other night. It looks like the phlox and coneflowers are trying to see into the front room.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blackberries Coming In

The last of the blueberries and the first of the blackberries, picked on Thursday. I went out today to see if I could pick more blueberries (wanted to make Mama Pea's Blueberry Pie!), but they're all gone.

Woodswalker in Saratoga says elderberries are ripe there. But here they're still green.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dear Truck

Dear Truck,
I miss you. Remember when you sat in the yard with your friend Car last fall and we watched the leaves turn color? Now you're sitting with some strange cars at the repair shop and you don't work. Don't worry, Mr Repair Shop Man is making you better and when you come back we're going to get wood to make raised beds. I got some cats who can take care of those mousies that hurt you. They've killed so many mice in the long month that you've been gone that I can't even keep track any more. Yesterday Sparky killed a fat or pregnant one, and today Pancho killed a mouse in the kitchen sink. These cats are going to make sure you never get sick from mice again!
Please be good. Don't start any more times without your keys, and come home soon!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What Last Friday Evening Gave me

This on the east side of the house. I think it's a double.
This on the west side of the house. I was going back and forth to catch all the action, with multiple cameras.

This weekend is supposed to be rainy too. Looks like I'll get a chance to finish last weekend's projects.

Hey Mom, Lookit These Cucumbers!

This one cucumber plant has really thrived on the little frame I built. Imagine what it would have looked like if all six plants would have survived! Not a pretty sight. I planted two squash plants that could be sacrificed and it looks like I may actually get a squash.

It's hard to see (I know where they are, so it's obvious to me), but there are 3 cucumbers in this photo. I harvested two of them last night, #3 and #4 from this plant.

The tomato plants are dying. Maybe this last excessive rain was too much for them.

There is one tiny canteloupe, about an inch in diameter. Unfortunately it hasn't changed in size in the last week, so I'll hope it gets bigger.

For a garden that was a "gotta get something into the ground" affair, I'm actually getting stuff to harvest, and it's great!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This is a Problem

Not the spice rack, silly. The cats! I thought I was being smart when I started feeding them on the kitchen counter. I wanted to give them some ownership of the area, so they'd see all the mice coming up through the stove and make them go away. (Note the beautiful steel wool keeping the mice from coming up behind the stove. Now they just come through the stove instead of behind it!) That part has worked swimmingly. I got dead mouse #6 this morning. Note to self - start throwing the mice in the trash instead of the woods. I'm not entirely sure whether this is a new mouse, or an old one that's been re-gifted.

Now that they own the counter, they think that they own everything on it, like my meals, which is a problem. Cats can be pretty stubborn, so it's me, throwing them off, 6, 7 times before they stay off. I mean, whose counter is this anyway?

You know how sometimes a project comes up and surprises you? I decided Monday morning that the spices really shouldn't be in a bowl on some shelves. They should be on a rack near the stove. So I found some stained 1 x 4 molding in the shed and got some angle brackets and ta-dah, it's a spice rack. It's not pretty, but there's not much in the kitchen that's pretty. Except the cats.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dye Experiments

On this last rainy Sunday morning, I decided to try out a jar of dye I had bought at the Connecticut Sheep and Fiber show. I measured out enough dye to color roughly a pound and cooked the left 8 ounces of Romney for 1/2 hour in a gallon or two of water in the 20 qt stockpot. Then I put in the spun yarn in the center (no cooking) for about an hour or so, and then colored the right stuff. It started out that pink color (which is a color I will *never* use), and ended up this awful gray. I might actually use the gray by blending with something else. We'll see.

I love how easy it was to get this rich color! And since this was all colored before spinning, the options are endless for the yarn! Oh the possibilities!


It's been a while since I went through my sewing box. I was looking for something on Friday night and found 3 pairs of these in the rarely-seen depths. I obviously bought them in the big-shoulder era, which was what, 20 years ago?

I read something last week about current style, and "they" say that the 80s are back! Nevertheless, these puppies are in the trash now - I'm SO not a big-shoulder pad person anymore!


Now how can I disturb all this cuteness to make that dress? The murderous beasts are resting up for their nightly rampage. They gave me 5 mice so far, but are taking a mouse break now, in favor of dragonflies. I'm getting about one a day. I think cats can detect the aura of what I want to do next, so they go and lay on it, whatever it is.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cooper and Atticus and the Porcupine

The two dogs on the left belong to my neighbor, 1/8 mile down the hill. She is taking care of her father on the other side of town these days, so only comes back once a week or so. I know she's home when her dogs come to visit. (That makes my nearest neighbor 1/2 mile away - cool.)

We met earlier this summer when she heard my dogs barking and drove up the hill to make sure everything was alright. We must have chatted for 1/2 an hour. She's lived here for years, and told me some amazing stories about the wildlife. One story involved a bear that started down at her house and ended up back in the woods, but not before going through the breezeway of MY HOUSE, and trying to get in through the french doors on the south side. She worries about porcupines, since her dogs have had unfortunate encounters with them while on my property. I found that a bit hard to believe.

UNTIL - last weekend. Cooper had been hanging around for days, which is not unusual when he's on the mountain. This time he'd been slinking around a bit more than usual, wouldn't play with Maggie, and had a strange white thing hanging from his nose. I didn't look closely at it until many hours had passed. Yes, it was a porcupine quill. I held him and pulled it out. I guess it hurt more than I expected, because he ran back to his house. But what I saw is that he had a few more sticking out of his nose that either were shorter or buried deeper than the one I had pulled out.

I called my neighbor, who was out of phone range, so we texted back and forth for a bit. It turns out that Atticus encountered the same porcupine and was at the hospital, where they were taking out several hundred quills. Poor guy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inside Work This Weekend

It's already started raining, and should rain through most of tomorrow, so it looks like an inside weekend this weekend.
That's not a bad thing. The cleanliness inside the house has suffered because of the recent good weather. It's time to get back on top of that. There are also a few inside projects I've been putting off. Replace the kitchen cabinet doors with curtains (the better for kitties to get at mice - mwah hah hah). Make a dress with some of the Omani fabric. Possibly card and spin some.
If I weren't going to do inside things this weekend, I was going to have to buy a mattock and a spud bar (if that's what it's called?) so that I can get to removing some stumps in the orchard area. I did some internet research about stump removal, and the way I'm going to try first is just to dig the stumps out, cutting the roots with the mattock.
All in all, I'm not bothered by having to put off that sweaty outside manly work to stay inside and do girly things this weekend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Office Flowers

I picked these on Sunday and brought them into the office Monday to liven it up. When coworkers come in and say the inevitable, "Nice flowers," I can waylay them into telling me what some of this stuff is. (They also tell me neat stuff about their gardens. One's son runs a nursery. Another has a wildflower garden around the pool.)

That's how I learned that the purple ones are phlox. Cool. They smell nice too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Murderous Beasts

Here's my murderous beasts, sleeping next to the current copy of Hobby Farms magazine (where, I might add, is an article on how to sharpen a chainsaw chain - how apropos!)

Days these cats have had the run of my house: 10

Dead mice: 4

When I came home from work last night, the concrete blocks I use as a front step aid for Desmond were out of place, and smelled suspiciously of dead animal. I shook them and a maggot-y dead mouse fell out of one. I went to get the dustpan mouse transport vehicle, and came back to see the whole thing, maggots and all disappearing into Desmond's mouth. Amazing what dogs think is yummy - I expected to see it all again, but thankfully his system is made of iron.

The night before last, I had gone outside to watch the stars for a bit and came inside to witness a literal cat and mouse drama, starring Sparky. I closed the doors to keep the dogs outside, and helped, by moving things out of the way as the mouse went behind them. It took a half an hour before Sparky finally incapacitated the mouse and I threw it into the woods. It probably died.
The domestic scene is much calmer than it was 10 days ago.

The Dark Side

I picked that beefsteak tomatoe when I got home last night. Here it is in all it's glory. The light side was yesterday, and here is the dark side. It looks like the varmints gave it a try before I got to it.

It's not a bad thing! There was plenty 'mater for a nice open-faced tomato sandwich. Yes - it was good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


You can see by this aerial shot (which is 10-or-so years old), that most of my property is wooded. I need to clear it quite a bit before I can start keeping goats here.

So.... two weeks ago I spoke to a logger. He logs the property, sells the wood and we split the proceeds. He looked at the site and says that I have enough wood to make it worthwhile for both of us.

He called today to let me know that he'll start logging next week. I know it's not politically correct to say this, but if he clear cuts, I'll be happy. The more trees he cuts or knocks down, even if he doesn't take them, the better for me. It will start to change the balance away from trees towards other forms of green. I don't need it to be pasture, brushy would be fine for goats. But I do need for the sun to get down to the ground to let other things besides trees grow here.

This area was originally forest, but I have heard from neighbors that as recently as 40 years ago, much of my property was meadows. I will not be ruining anything pristine.


I think this guy is going to be ready to be my dinner tonight. It's a beefsteak.

As I was taking this picture to show how well the cucumber plant is filling up the little frame I built, I noticed a second cucumber that looks ready to be dessert. Now I'm glad that most of the cukes mom planted got eaten young. This one plant is taking half the trellis. What if all six plants had survived? It would be a jungle in there.

The corn is making stuff on top! I'm not sure how this corn process goes, since I've never grown it before, and I didn't thin like I think I was supposed to. Maybe I'll get some corn after all!

Monday, August 17, 2009

High Temperatures

I wouldn't be worth my salt as an engineering geek if I didn't collect data! I'm only a little embarassed to say that I have 3 temperature indicators in various places.

I've had my first digital temp gage for years (I worked in a really cold office, and wanted to prove what the temperature really was). This was my second one - I had it for a few months before I realized that I wanted to collect data on wind speed, etc. Of course, all the wind speed indicators also have all the temperature stuff. That's the story of why I have three. You'll never catch me not knowing what the temperature is!

Anyhow - I had to capture the first time this year that it went over 80 degrees at the homestead. It's so hot inside because most of the windows don't open. Usually not a problem, so that's a project for a future year. (Yes, it needs to be cleaned.)

It was 84 degrees yesterday - steamy! Good thing I have a hammock and an apple tree with good shade to escape the heat of afternoon.

My Arms are Tired from Picking Blueberries

I picked 6 cups on Saturday and 4 cups on Sunday, alternating between the bushes near the house and the bushes on the upper blueberry hill. I checked out the lower hill, but even though there are berries there, it's not as much as the upper hill.
This picture shows blueberries over my head, taunting me. I can get them of course, but that's how my arms get so tired.

Where the Cats Relax

There, and in Desmond's doggy bed. Desmond is not liking them too much.

I won't complain though. They are earning their keep! They left a dead mouse under the dining room table for me this morning. I'm thinking about taking the cupboard doors off and replacing them with curtains to give the cats freer roam in the kitchen cabinets. My thinking is that freer roam = more dead mice!

In other news, the blueberry dyed wool faded quite a bit in the sun on Friday, to gray on top. I carded some of it, and it's a pale lilac color. I was hoping for a richer, deeper blue.

I think the problem here is my expectations more than anything else. I've read that natural dyes don't have the richness of non-natural dyes, but hoped anyway. That, or my mordanting.

Next natural dyes to try, blackberries and dewberries!

The Roof Man!

The roof man came to fix my chimney on Saturday. He looked at the leaks inside and diagnosed some of them as caused by water coming through the chimney. So he fixed that first. Then he did a little stabilization (especially the roof square at the lower left of this pic that was formerly a chimney for the kitchen). Just enough to get me through the winter, until I can save enough money to get a new roof.

He says this metal roof is the second roof on this 200-year old house. Underneath the metal is cedar shake. A new metal roof would easily last the rest of my life, and the next owners' too.

It's really nice to be able to trust someone with the roof problem.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Small Rant

Allow me a moment to rant about my life... (Let me start by saying that I know I'm extremely lucky. I have 25 acres of land and a house and a source of income to pay for all of this. I have 2 dogs, 2 cats, a good family and good friends. Life is good.)

What really started me off was a plan to use the aging blueberries in the refrigerator as dye for wool. I've never done this before, so I did a fair amount of research, and had to purchase some things. I came home from work last night and before I even changed from my work clothes, I set up the mordant bath, 2 tablespoons of alum and 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar. I weighed out a pound of uncarded Romney wool from a fleece I bought at the CT fiber festival in June and washed last weekend. (Don't get me started on how much friggin' work is involved in washing fleece!). Then I cooked the wool in the mordant bath for about 1/2 hour while I did my normal coming home from work stuff, and made the dye with 5 cups of blueberries.

OK - now the rant begins. I have a full-time job as an engineer. I get up at 5:30 every morning, do morning stuff, drive 45 minutes to work north of Albany, NY, work all day doing engineer stuff at a chemical plant (read: involves thinking, doing, etc, etc.), then drive 45 minutes home. I get home about 6. By the time I get home, I am frequently mentally and emotionally spent. In order to do a project like I did last night, I have to plan for it ahead of time, make sure I don't forget, and above all - don't sit down, have a beer or relax at all when I get home. If I start to relax, that's it, I'm done for the day. I give my job all of my energy and I have very little left for myself or my life.

After 20+ years of giving my entire life to various corporations, I made sure to set some boundaries with this job. They know I want to have a life outside of work and that my ambition here is to be a reliable "B" player. It's plain. There is just no way to work full-time, have the commute that I have and have anything left over. Even as a "B" player. What this means is that my grand plans for a goat business go much more slowly, and my other plans for home go by the wayside so I can regenerate from work. In terms of how I spend my time, it's just backwards from what I want.

I'm sure this dilemma is not new for wanna-be homesteaders (and parents with children). I'll just have to struggle with finding a balance that works, as do we all.

I'll leave you with two pictures. The first is the dyed wool drying outside this morning just before the sun rose. (I cooked it, let it soak all night and took it out this morning). The second picture is what my kitchen looked like last night after I used every single large pot that I have for this process, plus several other things. The kitchen still mostly looks like this. By the time I finished the dyeing process, it was late and I didn't want to spend more time cleaning up. Something to look forward to doing on a Friday night! (Boy I hope today's sun doesn't take away all that nice blueberry color! But then again, that's what lessons are - right?)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

State of the Garden Report

Out of the 6 broccoli plants planted, the varmints got 5. I harvested and ate the one head for dinner last week. I've never seen broccoli flowers, so I left some flowerets on the plant to let them blossom. And... here they almost are!

The varmints must not like tomatoes, as they are all looking hale and hearty (albeit a little small), and filling with tomatoes. I'm keeping an eye on one beefsteak that's beginning to change color, and making sure I have bread and mayo for the inevitable tomato sandwich where the tomato is still warm from the sun.

The cucumber plant is happy! I'll be taking this little guy soon.
It's beginning to get fall-like around these parts. The canteloupe plant is doing well, but hasn't made any fruits yet. The honeydew plant is looking pretty weak, and the corn is about 3 feet tall now. I'm not sure I'll be getting anything before frost, but we'll see!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Perfect Evening

At least as perfect as a weekday evening can be, trying to cram so many things into so few hours!

I got home from work about 6, changed into blueberry picking clothes and picked 3-1/2 cups in about 45 minutes. You can see here that the dewberries are ripening. Looks like that will be the next harvest. (Wikipedia says I can make a blue dye with dewberries.)

Then I got on the lawnmower and cut the grass until the sun set. It grew tall this week since we've actually had more sunshine than rain, for a change.

Then I came inside, made blueberry sauce, had dinner and watched the sunset paint the sky vivid colors.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Preparing for Winter

How this winter is going to be different from last winter: (I'm into lists today...)

- First, I'm going to make sure the windows stay closed. Some of them kept falling open last winter because they don't close enough to be able to use the latches. This winter I'll use wood dowels to force them closed.

- I'm going to put area rugs over every exposed inch of the floor. I think wind was blowing up the hill, through huge openings in the foundation into the crawlspace and some of it was coming up through the floor. (Although looking at this picture, the foundation is protected by snow. Hmm.)

- I'm having someone look at the outside storm windows to possibly repair some of them.

- I ordered inside storms from these guys: . It's like the plastic you put over the windows, but on steroids. The double-sided tape holding the plastic stuff didn't stick last winter, so it was like having nothing at all over the windows. These inside storms are plastic, but it's two layers on a frame and attached to the window frame with twisty things over weatherstripping. I do believe this will stop most of the wind inside the house. I ordered one to cover the door you see in this picture too. That door was a major source of inside breezes last winter.

- If all of that stuff doesn't get me to at least 65 degrees inside, then I may buy sheets of insulation and tack it up on the west wall on the inside. Yes it will be ugly. Last winter I couldn't get it warmer than 58 degrees inside, (10 feet away from the wood stove!) and I don't want to spend another winter being that cold!

Update on Many Things

I considered making a separate post for each topic, but then we'd have many, many, very short posts. So here goes:
- Blueberries are at their peak now. I've been picking 1-2 cups most every day for the last week or so. It's just sad when I look at a bush like this one and pass over all the single berries so I can pick the clumps. It's more efficient that way. There are probably 10-15 bushes I haven't even looked at. Those berries will wither on the bush.

- I made a great blueberry sauce yesterday, and froze half of it in an ice cube tray. I have no idea if that will work. I think I'll make more tonight and have it on blueberry pancakes for dinner. Will I get sick of blueberries? You betcha!

- I went to visit my truck yesterday at the shop. Mr Shop Man says the mice ate insulation off a few wires in every single wire harness. Not enough to call it the cause of the mysterious starting problem. Current suspect is the relay box that was full of mouse urine. He's dried it out, but is looking for a used replacement from a junkyard. I'm OK with the truck sitting there. It's in good hands. If it wasn't sitting there, it'd be sitting in my yard, and the cats aren't quite up to speed on their mousing duties yet. They're busy training some dogs right now.

- BUT - my heart leapt with joy this morning when I saw a little dead baby mouse in the rug near my bed. A gift! My first mous-y present! I took a picture, but I'll do us all a favor and not post it.

- The cats and dogs are integrated enough so that I don't have to babysit everyone any more. Whew. Pancho has been spending the night watching the stove (as a good mouser should, since that's where the inside mice are coming from). Sparky is still sleeping upstairs. Maggie is sleeping in her normal place, but runs into the kitchen every time she hears something, so she can help. Needless to say, my sleep is a bit fractured these days.

- Pancho is the big brother and protector of Sparky and has no fear. Yesterday he let Maggie lick his ear, and on Sunday they were playing a running, scratching game (the cats hiss and scratch and the dog runs around and back to the cats). At least I think it will develop into a game. I think all will be well with these folks.

Don't Forget the Perseids Wed Night

The Perseid meteor shower might show over 80 meteors per hour.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Metaphor...and Table Scraps

It was not rainy this morning, so I went outside to clear a bit more in the orchard area. (I know I said I wouldn't clear any more this year, but it's SO satisfying. In my paid work, it usually takes months to see results, if at all. (In short, my job is to make people change what they're doing, and think it's their idea. It doesn't happen quickly. Sometimes it doesn't happen at all.) Clearing things is instant gratification. It fills a gap in my life. Yeah that's it.)

There is a single metal rod with a yellow insulator on it in the orchard area, a remnant of an old electric fence that I thought I'd make quick work of removing. I moved it side-to-side and front-to-back to loosen it and pull it out. Not moving. I used the crowbar and mallet to loosen dirt around it to pull it out .... and found that there's a winged "thing" about 4 inches underground. And a big-ass root growing across the top of the wings. Removed the root. Brought the shovel out to dig around and get under the thing. Dug a hole about 6 inches deeper than the thing, maybe a foot deep total. Whoever put it in used rocks to hold it in place - so I wouldn't call it "digging" a hole. More like moving rocks out of the ground. All of that work and nothing. No movement at all.

That's when I began to get a bit irritated and started to think about things like bigger mallets and a huge hole in the ground. And that's when I realized that what I'm looking at here is a ... (cue the Sergio Leone spaghetti western music) ... a metaphor. It perfectly sums up virtually everything here. Harder than it looks, but you don't know how hard until you get into it. The only way to finish it is to start it and just push through. That's when I laughed.

And then it started raining, to continue the metaphor. I went inside and the post is still sitting there. It won. Today.

The introducing-the-cats-to-the-dogs project is going well. Desmond is scared of them, and studiously looks the other way when he sees a cat. That part was easy. The other part was calming Maggie down enough so the cats realize they can coexist with her. I've used the crate with Maggie, allowing the cats to leisurely walk in front of her. The leash works well with Maggie too. And I've put the dogs outside while that cats get free roam of the inside. This weekend we've all been together in the same room several times, and nobody got hurt. That's progress. Maggie just needs to get her nose scratched once and the tribe order will be set. I think the cats are pulling their punches, or scratches. Why, I don't know.

Tonight I made steak and mashed potatoes for dinner for myself, and carried the scraps into the kitchen to feed to the dogs. I woke Desmond up, and by the time he made it into the kitchen, I realized there were THREE animals begging for the scraps in the kitchen. Two dogs and Pancho. Obviously table scraps warrant a cease-fire!

Sweetness and Light

I love discovering new old things on this property, but it's not all sweetness and light. I was mowing over the future orchard area for the first time yesterday and the mower found this. It used to be a tomato cage. I thought I had found all of them hiding in the tall weeds, and now maybe I have. After a short operation, the mower is fine.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Project with a Capital P

I've got a hankering to start a Project. That's Project with a capital P. Here are some old patterns I got in a thrift store in Cleveland a few years ago, and some fabric I got in Oman in early 2008. I really, really want to make one of these dresses with one of these fabrics.

The reason why this is a capital P Project? None of the patterns is my size, so I'd have to re-jigger the pattern. Plus, the fabric has a nap with this edge pattern and I'll have to play with it a bit to get it right. All of us sewers know how time-consuming sewing really is. You spend much more time laying out, pinning, cutting, basting, etc, etc, etc. And hardly any time actually sewing. If I actually started this Project, it would take all weekend.

But since it's predicted to be sunny and dry all weekend, for like the 3rd time all summer, I would rather be outside. I should really save this Project for winter, but who wants to sew summer-weight things in the winter?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finding the Past

It's wonderful to come home from work and take a trip around the yard to see what's new. I've discovered a few things recently that remind me that people have lived in this house for centuries (literally). So many plants that didn't arrive here naturally are still thriving even after years of no attention.

Let's talk about the herbs. On the north side of the house is a field of oregano. It's probably 10 feet square. Here's a pic with my purse to get a sense of scale. I've never seen this much oregano in my life! (Unless there's a wild plant that's an oregano doppleganger ... ?) Many of the plants thriving here now were buried under invasive blackberries and raspberries last year.

On the south side of the house are the old raised beds that I recently demolished. One of those beds is half-covered with chives. (As in 4 feet x 8 feet of chives.) These freakin' chives! They were the first green things in the yard in the spring, and they've been blooming ALL season! You can see in the front of this shot that some more blooms are getting ready to pop out. I took out the wood and mowed over most of the raised beds, but I couldn't bring myself to mow over the chives.

I know I said I was going to take a break from pet pics, but this is interesting - really! Here Maggie is rolling in thyme. I'm not sure where it was originally planted, or if it's wild around here, but now it's in between the old raised beds and the cherry trees. Doggy perfume! This area was totally overwhelmed with invasive blackberries too. It came back fairly easily, ... so far.

Here's a closer look at the blossoming thyme. Now I'm looking closely at all the grasses, weeds and all the green stuff around here thinking, "is this something interesting?"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So ... um ... What is This Stuff?

I'm embarrassed to continually be asking questions about what stuff is. But .... what is this? It's about 5 feet high.

In other news:

- I'm going to take a break from showing pictures of my pets. It's hard to imagine, but I understand that not everyone thinks they're as fascinating as I do.

- I harvested some broccoli last night. The ONE plant that is making good stuff after varmints ate the other FIVE, is looking sick after it got flooded last week and sat in water for several days. The thing that saved this plant (from varmints) is a plastic collar at ground level. I tried different collars, and FYI, the cottage cheese container with the bottom cut out - did not work. The one that worked is a black plant pot with the bottom cut out.

- The ONE cucumber plant left after varmints ate the other FIVE is looking great! This one is protected by chicken wire and a plastic pot as well. I planted some sacrificial squash plants, and in addition to having their delicate parts eaten, they never took off.

- The TWO corn plants out of SIX remaining, look great. I hope they actually make some corn for me before it freezes!

- I think I need to buy an axe. Much of the wood I'm splitting is stringy, so the splitter isn't completely splitting the wood. There are strings still holding pieces together. This need-to-buy-things just doesn't end, does it?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Chainsaw

I've been putting off bucking any more wood because my current chainsaw is just not the right tool for the task. I can only get about 10-15 cuts before it runs out of gas, and it doesn't start up again when it's hot, so I have to wait until it cools down. Extreme pain in the keister. (You can see in past posts, my angst about getting new chains for it, and my fun times at the hardware store.)

I bought this guy on EBay yesterday! I'm so excited about getting it and making short work of the 5-6 cords of wood up on the hill. And all the future wood that will fall under this willing chain.

This time I did my own research (which is what I should have done the first time - silly me for believing the Ace Hardware people). This is a Stihl MS310, which is a 60cc, 4 HP midrange saw that has good power for the weight. It comes with a 20-inch bar, chisel chain, bar cover and bag. I don't know what half of that means, but this time I think I got the right tool for the job!

More Cat Introductions

I'm continuing to let the cats out into the house while the dogs are outside during the day. Today I moved their food to the kitchen counter to get them used to the idea of eating in the kitchen, where the food will be long-term. (I'm taking back the kitchen counter from the mice!)
Here are some shots of the fun and games after I let the cats out this morning.

When Pancho hears the noise outside of Maggie trying to get in, he goes to investigate. Maggie is practicing all the loving she's going to give Pancho when they finally get to touch noses. (Ha ha, like it's really going to happen like that!)

Desmond wants to love up on Pancho too.

Maggie trying different ways to get in. Here she is on the porch railing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Maggie Meets Pancho

My father had the idea to let the cats out of the guest room when I'm gone to let them get acquainted with the house (and the mice). I normally leave the dogs outside when I'm gone, so it's a reasonable thing to do, and they can stay separated for while longer.

Pancho is the more exploratory of the two cats. He made it all the way to the other end of the house before Sparky even got downstairs.
And met Maggie - again.

I can tell already that Pancho isn't going to take any guff from no dogs. When we left the house, he was sitting in this room watching Maggie throw herself against the door.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pancho and Sparky

Pancho, on the left, and Sparky have been shut in the guest room since Friday afternoon. An accidental visit by Maggie set them off for a bit, but they've since calmed down. They'll stay here for a week or so before I slowly introduce them to the dogs. As old as Desmond is, he's extremely interested in them too.