Friday, November 22, 2013

These days I'm ...

Thought it was time for a these days post!

These days I'm ...
-- wondering how these weeks with both me & my husband working weekday days can seem even busier than usual when he's on night shift!
-- surprised how late in November it is!
-- looking forward to spending American Thanksgiving day with some local friends and their extended family
-- wondering how it seems every day I think about it that I think I've just posted on the blog but then I realize its been at least a week!
-- missing my best friend from back home who visited for a few days at the start of the month
Visiting with Auntie A

-- eagerly anticipating our first snowfall that sticks & lasts more than just a week days - next week?, later?
-- hoping said snow arrives soon because these nights down into the (low) teens are quite chilly and snow makes the cold so much more bearable!
-- dropping Baby E off at her first day of daycare with her big sis, and marveling at how quickly these past months have flown by - she's ready for more interaction than my office provides, but I'm not sure I'm ready for her to be this ready, although she had a great first day & I managed just fine too! :)
all ready for Baby E's first day accompanying Little M to daycare down the road!

-- looking at the expanse of new garden space that I've slotted for expansion next spring and wondering how on earth I'll manage to keep it all weeded!
-- busily in the midst of scheming for homemade or homegrown Christmas gifts, and thinking of ideas to add to the garden next year to make even more
-- enjoying weekly knitting get togethers with a local mama friend while our kiddos play
-- hoping this (last) slow weekend in front of us before holiday craziness starts helps the kiddos get over this nasty cough that Little M has had for the past week, and that Baby E has clearly gotten a bit too

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Herb and Flower Area - Part Four

So, at long last, here are the after pictures of my new flower and herb area. I'm loving this long expanse even now, when there is a dusting of snow over the healthy layer of leaves I used to tuck the plants and bulbs in for the winter. (Missed earlier posts in this series? Here are parts one, two, and three.)

Once I got my husband to help with the back breaking work of using the pick axe and shovel to break up the stoney, quack grass filled soil, it was fairly straight forward to pick out most of the rocks and weeds, mix in some pig manure, and transplant the herbs and bulbs from the various areas around the property that they were growing at before.

It was a several week process, done in bits and spurts when we had some free time with either sleeping or cooperative kiddos.

But I was pretty motivated to get it done, so we cranked away at it and it was done before the first snowfall. When I was planning it out on paper, I wasn't sure we had enough time to really get it in this fall, and thought it might be a project that needed to wait until next spring and fall, but I'm pretty happy we got it done. It means that much more space in the lower garden for growing veggies next summer, and the herbs will be so much closer to the house in this area. Not to mention the flower viewing will be much more appreciated in this spot, near the chicken coop, where we are a lot more frequently than down in the lower garden.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Herb and Flower Area - Part Three

Missed earlier posts in this series? Catch up with part one or part two.

So the new area was born once I realized that we would be expanding the side garden again next spring into part of the past summer's pig area, and once I realized that the new herb area I set up in the side garden this past spring was really not large enough even for the plants presently in it. Looking at the space we would be expanding in to, I realized that for at least the next few years, there and potentially longer, there could be a slice of space between the garden and the chicken/orchard area that could definitely be a permanent flower and herb bed.

 After scoping the area out, I started making a list of all of the plants I would like to put in there. First I listed all of the plants, both flowers and herbs, currently in the lower garden. Then I included the additional ones in the side garden that weren't just duplicate herbs. Next I thought about what other plants from around the property could or should get moved in. I came up with a few that may get moved in as well as all of the bulbs and herbs you've seen from the past posts that are in the gardens currently.

I also added some new herbs/flowers to my list that I would like to try in future years: echinacea, bee balm, lemon grass, mint. Some of these are on the list to add for next spring, some are likely further down the road, and some likely will end up elsewhere than in this bed, but they were all added so that I had a list of what I might like to fit into the new bed.

Once I had a list of all of the plants I might want to put in this new bed, I did some sketching. I went back through my old pictures of the plants throughout the last couple of gardening seasons, and wrote notes about the timing of the flowers on the herbs and bulbs, how tall the plants were, how big they got, etc. This sort of information helped me decide where each plant would go, and what other plants would look good near it. My ultimate goal was to have a bed that looked good throughout the summer, not just at certain time periods. Thus I wanted to have the flowers intermixed so that the early ones weren't all clumped together, etc. I also looked at the plants in terms of splitting some of them, specifically some of the flowers, so that I had more of some of the daffodil and iris clumps if they were getting larger, especially some of the ones we like the best.

Then I measured the bed, measured some of the spacing that was and wasn't working in the existing gardens, and I sketched some more. Finally I came up with a plan of what would go where. Then I needed to wait until the pigs were gone so I could turn this grassy space into garden - ripping all of the grass and weeds out, adding some pig manure, and transplanting lots and lots of plants.

In the next and final part of this series I'll share the after pictures, of what the plan on paper translated into on the ground! I know I promised pictures this time of the finished product, but I thought a bit more explanation of the process I went through in deciding what went where was in order first!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Exhaling into November

October is always a crazy-busy month for us. The first weekend is always spent over at duck camp, checking out our duck hunting lakes before the duck hunting season opens, hoping to see some upland birds to hunt during our drives. Getting our time in before the rest of the family descends for weekend after weekend of duck hunting.

The second (and all subsequent, really!) weekend is spent duck hunting and camping at duck camp, with a varied assortment of my husband's dad's side of the family. My work schedule is such that the fall is when most of our construction happens, since that is outside of the irrigation season (ditches turn off October 1st around here), and when our in-water work is least likely to disturb any endangered salmonids. So work life is also busy.

Then there is Halloween to end the month out, and this year to start the month off my parents were here for a week. They visit infrequently (that's what happens when you move across the country then south across the border unfortunately!), but we pack so much into visits that I swear we accomplish more when they are here than the several months on either side of their visits combined! However, it means when they go I need a day or so to recuperate by packing in some down time!

In between this month my dog (the oldest of our three, who has been with me since my university days back (near) home) had a mass surgically removed from her leg near her paw that turned out to be cancerous. She's healing really well from the surgery, although we've had twice weekly bandage changes at the vet's to ensure it heals well, plus twice daily medicine, supervised outside time, and nightly cone-wearing. We're hoping it doesn't come back, although chances are it will. Hopefully at least it will take some time to come back and get to the point of interfering with her ability to walk, so that we still have some time left with her. She turns 11 in January, so I've had a good many years with her, but we are savoring our days with her more now than we have in years, which has been really special.

The pigs were slaughtered and the meat just came back from the butcher today (adding to the good things in November's court - a freezer full of meat!). Then there was deer hunting season, which this year entailed the mister running around the woods with a couple of friends trying to help them get their deer (he got his up in the mountains on an early high hunt). Then my husband's car gave us a bit of a scare this past week, although our trusty mechanic & good friend ran the diagnostics and the warning lights were just due to the gas cap being not quite tight enough (talk about a HUGE sigh of relief!).

Not to mention that my husband's new work schedule is doing it's usual throwing-us-all-out-of-whack, so that we're having to refigure what things get done when! Note to my future self - when he's working weekday days, mama time is best in late afternoons prior to picking Little M up from daycare, on the one day a week that she can stay there until 5 or so! Clearly once both girls are going to daycare, this plan won't work so well... but we'll cross that bridge next year when he is next on this schedule!

All told, I'm looking back at October and heaving a huge sigh of relief that it is a new month. Ah November, already you are exciting me with predictions of snow flurries to come, limited garden chores to finish (although I'm a bit further behind on snow-flying yard preparations than most years), and the promise of weekends at home with the family once the lakes freeze at duck camp! What about you - enjoying the steady approach of the dark, cold, snowy winter months? Stopping to recuperate after a full-out busy spring, summer & fall?

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