Thursday, May 31, 2012

When Plan C works out

The other night we were having friends over for supper. Before they arrived I did a bit of tidying and cleaning, you know, the stuff that needs to get done anyway but you put it off until you realize you've got guests coming so you rush around finishing chores. As I finished tidying, and my husband finished making supper, I realized that I wasn't exactly sure what time they were supposed to arrive. As the latest time I had expected them to show up came and went, and no vehicles pulled down our driveway, we called and realized that they had gotten their wires crossed on what day of the week it was; after the long weekend, they were running a day off!

My husband called me up from the garden where I was doing a bit of weeding before they arrived, and we just ate supper on our own. Having a surprise open night, we tried to figure out what our Plan B was, so called a neighbor friend who had invited us over earlier to see her new baby piglets. We had declined earlier since we had dinner plans, but now thought, hey, lets go down and see them! Unfortunately we couldn't get ahold of her, so we had to move on to figure out a Plan C.

Ahah, a hike! I looked around, and realized that there was a nearby hilltop that I'd been looking at lately that seemed a good distance from the house and looked like interesting habitat, not to mention would likely have a great view. We packed a few things, and off we went! It took about an hour to hike there, with several stops and detours, but only a half hour back. We saw minimal wildlife, but the views were just amazing. Enjoy, cause we sure did!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend Happenings

 With my husband off this past weekend, we had so much time to fill! We got through a lot of our to-do list, and survived the addition of some extra items too...

Garden hoed & raked (around the volunteer pea plants), corn planted - about a quarter of the garden is in corn this year, twice as much as last year.

 Beans planted, 2 rows each of 2 types of dry beans, and 4 rows of a couple types of green beans.

 Beautiful little butterfly getting nutrients from the soil around the potatoes.

No strawberries yet, but soon! Corn on the left, potatoes, carrots, onions, and cucumbers past the strawberries. Then the raspberries, then the lower half of the garden.

Planting the squash & cucumber seeds, after pre-sprouting them inside.

 Beans in, squash area prepped, squash seeds in, tomato & pepper area prepped, tomatoes & peppers hardening off on the porch.

 Hardening off - peppers, tomatoes, and an assortment of herbs.

 Swallowtails down in the lower field, 5 or 6 of them!

It wouldn't be summer around here without some irrigation issues, this geyser was short-lived, but exciting while it lasted! Luckily the irrigation guy was able to reduce flow in the main line enough so my husband could get the irrigation head back on our outlet, so the down-pipe users could get their water pressure back!

I hope your weekend was as productive and fun-filled as ours!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Planting Squash

I start my squash seeds a bit differently from some gardeners. Instead of starting seeds weeks early, growing a little plant up, hardening it off, and then planting it out after last frost, I start my seeds a mere couple days before planting them out. I simply sprout my seeds by placing them in damp paper towels in a container for a couple days. When they've gotten about an inch of root growing out of the seed, then I plant them out.

This way I plant seeds that I know have germinated, which is always useful with saved seeds, or several year old seeds, both of which seem to be situations I put myself in often. This way I can pick the best looking sprouts, and plant the number I want. I've had really good luck doing this with Squash, Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Zucchini, and Melons.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Spring of New Beginnings

It feels like spring is all around us. The peas are coming up out of the ground and starting their ascent. The strawberries are stretching up towards the warm sun and have numerous flowers opening up. The raspberries buds have unfurled and new raspberry shoots are poking up all over the place in the garden where they aren't supposed to be. The fruit tree flowers are mostly past up in the orchard, and the two apples down in the garden where spring comes a bit later are set to open soon. The fresh slate that is the springtime garden is starting to be committed to growing different things - onions in over there and across there, beans and corn to go in soon up there and down past there, the potatoes there and there, and the squash plants to go in past them down over there. This year's future in the garden is beginning to have a guided path that I'm liking quite a lot. Three years in to gardening here and the weeding, the estimating of plant quantities, and the ratios of the different plants is all so much easier and seems way simpler than even last year. In fact I'm almost thinking I might need to expand the garden next spring because its been so easy to handle this year so far.

Other aspects of our lives are starting to have a better defined path as well. First there's the rental, with it sold, we now know that we'll be staying in our current home, and without payments and improvements on the rental, we'll have a bit more disposable income consistently with which to pay the mortgage off early, fix the house up, put up some fencing, or plant some more fruit trees. Less options about where we'll live, but more options within the house & location that we would have chosen hands down anyways. It's been so nice to feel that much more settled and permanent in our home, and its been exciting to start working a little more seriously on our exact fence locations, talking more definitively about surveying the property to get a good topo layer in AutoCad to play around with pasture layouts and barn locations, and thinking more about finishing some projects inside the house including the spare bedroom and sunporch plans.

The other, previously not mentioned on the blog, item that has really changed this spring is my husband's job situation. I think I've alluded several times to the crap-tacular work environment he's been forced to put up with off and on for at least the past year, and likely longer than that. Well that all should change next month - he's accepted a position with a department a bit further away, and given in his notice with his current employer. Tomorrow is in fact his last shift. We still have to go through all his gear and paperwork at home, likely tomorrow morning before he starts work, and come up with the pile that belongs to work vs us, but we're so very close to having that door shut and a new and amazing one open in front of him.

We knew about a year ago that he couldn't stay long term with his current department. I can't go into the details, but early last spring things were really quite bad. The situation seemed to stabilize over the late spring and early summer, but then things deteriorated again in the fall. After looking in to other options off and on, and meanwhile hoping that the situation would resolve itself on its own, about a month ago an opportunity came up with this new department and my husband jumped for it with both arms wide open. I'm so proud of him for sticking with the old situation - understanding that his family needed that paycheck and health insurance, and that he wanted to be a police officer more than he wanted out of the crappy situation. But I'm also proud of him for knowing when it was time to cut his losses and leave a town & valley he loves working in, with some really great people that he will dearly miss, for a better job experience.

He'll have a couple months of training day shifts, then at least a couple more months of day shifts, so I'm looking forward to him being home 7 evenings a week so we can put Little M to bed together. For the first couple months we'll also have one day a week off together, which is fairly unheard of for us, and especially in the summertime! I know that it typically takes me at least a month to get used to our new schedule when his changes, so I know that the next 4 months will be a little unsettled and I likely will have to find new ways to find my down time if he's home every evening, but I'm so glad we'll have a day off together, and that he's going to a department where he will be appreciated, treated with respect, allowed to grow as an officer, and overall be able to love his job.

It's funny, we've had so many hard times in the past couple of years, a lot to do with his job. I'm sure the future will bring more drama, more hard times, and more upheaval - futures always do - but I really can't help but be grateful - there were times when life was hard, sure, but we got through it, and more than got through it even. Overall, we've had a great family life in the past couple of years, and the hardship that could have torn us apart has forged us together in ways we might never have if it hadn't of been for these hard times. I can't help but be grateful that we have had these hard times, because of the strong foundation it's given us in our marriage. And as we go forward into this oh-so-promising and exciting future, I can only hope that we keep allowing the bad to help us be stronger and better.

Months back, before the latest fiasco's began with his job, before the offer on our house, before the new job application went in, we had scheduled our flights to a belated & childless honeymoon to Hawaii. We leave in a couple weeks. A month after the rental closed, mere weeks after my husband accepted this new job & gave notice on his current one, and a few days before he starts the new job. How sweet is that?! Baring more complications in the next couple weeks (let's knock on wood, shall we?), we'll go on vacation with only one house & mortgage, with a new promising & exciting job to come back to, and with the crazy situation here a bit more distant since it won't be happening in his department any more. To say we're excited is just the tip of the iceberg!

My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who knowingly or unknowingly have provided us with support, be it through crossed fingers, prayers, or well wishes in the past months - we've been through this cycle with my husband's work before through the last couple springs, but this time it was so much easier, in part because we had all of you standing with us this time. So have a happy weekend folks, cause we sure will be!

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's HOT here!

We had a very hot weekend! It got into the 80's yesterday, and it's forecast to get into the very high 80's over the next couple of days as well. It's a big event weekend in town, so we went in to watch the parade on Saturday. We watched the very tail end, which ends up being not as exciting as watching it downtown, but my husband was working and in charge of keeping the highway closed at the end, so we hung out with him. It was fun waving at all the parade vehicles & horses with Little M. She got to pet 2 horses, and liked all the lights on the firetrucks and police vehicles, but wasn't too sure about the fire horns! We kept ducking back into the shade of the woods beside the road, where Little M quickly realized that running up to the irrigation ditch above the road was super fun... At least it was cooler in the shade!
enjoying a sandwich in the shade before the parade got to us

Running back to Papa & his car to wave at the first parade vehicles!

Running back up to the ditch between parade vehicles!
On Sunday, my husband got called in to work early to respond to an accident in town, so Little M and I had the whole day to ourselves. We had to make a quick trip into town in the morning - for some disposable diapers to try and get a handle on this diaper rash she's fighting, and for some gas for the lawn mower so we could try and get ahead of the quickly growing grass! After we got home, we played a bit outside before lunch, but after lunch, and heck, right up until about 7:30, it was just too hot to be outside doing anything but sitting in the shade. As the sun was setting behind the hills we got the mower out and did a bit of the front lawn. The riding mower is still not back running again so I'm using the push mower... whew it is a lot of work, but so worth it to have the weeds cut down!

We've been keeping the garden well watered, sometimes even twice a day. My poor onions, which I planted out a few days before this heat wave hit, are just melting in this heat. Silly me didn't look ahead at the forecast other than to see low's at night that weren't concerning at all, so although the poor little plants are having easy nights, the days are just about doing them in... The weather is supposed to get a bit cooler later this week - only up in the 70's as highs, so once I baby the onions past the next day or two, they should do fine with water only in the mornings, or every other morning!

I love evenings this time of year, as we lose the sun sideways as it sets into the hills, and we watch the shade creep from the road south to the house, and then down to the garden, and then up the hill to the south of us. And on warm days, the evening breeze is a bit cool, but the air is still warm and even hot. Perfect summer evening weather!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Springtime Garden

Little M and I have been busy planting out some of our cool weather crops. Well, I've been kept busy planting and defending the little plants, she's been busy digging in the garden, narrowly avoiding killing all our new starts, and generally running wild. We've gotten a good start on planting out our onion starts, chive starts, and kale starts. Really I've only got about half of each planted, but that's what progress looks like with a busy 2 year old folks!

In other garden news, the peas are up and heading skyward.

And the raspberries are thriving. Perhaps even doing a bit too well, I'm forever having to dig up new shoots escaping into the rest of the garden!

The black raspberries are doing alright too, a bit of overwinter die back, but they are coming strong from the bases of the canes that didn't make it. We'll have delicious black raspberries soon enough!

And in the orchard we attempted to graft apple clippings from the rental tree we both loved onto our apple trees. I don't have high expectations, I didn't want to fork out the 20 bucks for the tip seal, and couldn't find anything other than cling wrap to wrap around the joins. Plus I think we were a bit late in the spring to graft. But I'll keep you posted as to how they turn out. And really, we can't learn and improve unless we try!

The rest of the orchard is looking mighty fine too, after Little M and I mowed it the other day. The trees are starting to flower, the grass is nicely mowed, and the irrigation is turned back on after the winter. We're ready to start growing some fruit, yes we are!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Springtime hike

One day last weekend, or maybe the weekend before, I put Little M up on my back and we went out for a hike. We headed north, to maybe see some snakes and find a new den, but generally to just get out of the house and see the world around us.

As it turns out, we didn't see any snakes at all, but we did see a blue grouse, a bunch of mule deer, and lots of birds. We saw hills & distant snow covered peaks. Big & small trees, sagebrush, antelope/bitterbrush, and lots and lots of grass surrounded us. We hiked up, around, across, up again, and then down & back. No snakes, but plenty of fill-your-spirit-back-up nature. Just what we needed :)
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