Saturday, April 30, 2011

More Progress

I have been busy today!  I got up relatively early today and got right to work.  Here is what I've done:
1.  Washed the dishes
2.  Assembled my new raised bed garden - decided to stack two on top of each other instead of having two shallow ones. 
3.  Cut cardboard to fit the bottom of the raised bed then put newspaper around the edges.  
4.  After replacing a worn out garden hose and digging through the pole barn for my spray nozzle, I was able to water down the sheet mulch and get ready to build the soil.
5.  I decimated one of my compost piles.  I hauled several large loads of composted material to go into my raised beds.  I put a thick layer down on the bottom of my new one then worked some into the soil I have in my large beds.  
6.  I added 150 LBS. topsoil and a couple bags of composted manure.  I knew I would need more before I even started, but at least I got this far before noon.

7.  I went to Meijer (a Michigan based store that sells just about everything) and picked up 200 LBS. of soil and a few bags of garden hummus.  I also asked the manager of the garden center if they were throwing out some 1"X1"X6' pieces of wood that were in a bin.  He said they were and that I could have them if I wanted.  I told him I would be back later with a vehicle to pick them up.  Thank you Meijer!  You rock!
8.  I went to Tractor Supply and bought a chicken feeder, a galvanized bucket and a small cold frame.
9.  Unloaded my plunder and finished filling the new raised bed with the dirt and hummus.
10.  Assembled some shelving we bought a couple weeks ago and organized the garage.
11.  Took my 2nd shower of the day and am getting ready to go out with Charlie now that he is home from work.  Gotta pick up those wooden stakes and then going to Sears to look at an electric range.

I'm feeling accomplished!  Gotta run!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award!

I received my first blogging "award" from another blogger recently.  Girl of 1000 Faces gave me The Versatile Blogger award!  I am very honored to accept it.  It goes to "newly discovered" bloggers who have versatile blogs (not just pics of their kids, etc).  Thank you, Girl of 1000 Faces, for finding me worthy of the award.
This was awarded this to me about a month ago, but I've not had a lot of time to accept the award.  


Here are the official rules for accepting this award:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Tell us 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered new bloggers.

4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they've received their award.

So, here goes:
7 things you might not know about me:
1. Other than 7 months spent living in Mali (West Africa) and a summer living in a van (traveling the country), I have lived in Michigan my entire life.
2.  I've been married for almost 6 years to an amazing guy that I met on-line.  
3.  I was home schooled for about half of my K-12 education.  I loved it!  
4.  I started learning about photography in 9th grade and I have an associate of arts degree in photography.
5.  Along with Mali, I've also traveled to Brazil, Spain, Canada, England and at least half of the United States.
6.  I was quite a tomboy as a child.  I used to build forts, fish, and explore with my brother and guy friends.  
7.  I can't think of anything else.  I will leave this spot open to questions -- if you want to know anything about me, feel free to comment and ask me a question.  

As for the 15 recently discovered bloggers that I feel are versatile:
1.  Girl of 1000 Faces -- I have to say, she has an interesting blog.  No, I don't expect you to have to re-accept the award since you have already done that once.  
2.  A Country Farm House -- Gorgeous photos and stylish taste.
3.  Throwback at Trapper Creek -- A great looking blog.  I particularly like the handy "How-to" section.
4.  Heritage Farmgirl -- Reminds me of "Mary Janes Farm" style.
5.  bread and honey -- food + art = what more could you want?
6.  Wow, this is taking forever!  I will never get this posted if I don't stop now.  It takes a lot of time to search through hundreds of blogs looking for something different, versatile and well made.  Can I cheat and just accept the award without posting all 15?  I've spent hours looking through blogs -- but most of the ones I looked at already have huge followings.  How about this... I'll stop here and try to add more as I find them.  Anyone that is listed on the side of my page here qualify as versatile blogs and I've noticed that many of the people that follow my blog also have interesting blogs as well -- I'm just outta time right now.

Supposedly we are going to have good weather on Saturday.  I'll be working in my garden again because my carpal tunnel will allow it again.  I also have plans to do some engagement photos for a friend.  That will be cool, because it has been a while since I've done any portraiture.

By the way, I seem to be having some sizing issues on this blog post.  I have no idea why.  Probably from starting the blog and saving, then doing more and saving it as a draft -- over and over.  Sorry it looks so stupid.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I just had a long weekend by getting a couple of days off of work.  I vowed to work in my garden -- and I think I made some definite progress.  The photo below was shot just a few feet from our house.  You can see my raised beds that Charlie and I built last year.  Beyond that, a rock retaining wall that stretches the entire length of our pole barn (in our front yard) all the way to the backyard.  A good chunk of our property is on this side of the house.  Although the soil is sandiest there, it is the best place I have to put my fruit and nut plants.  I had to amend the sandy soil first with compost and some bagged topsoil after digging some holes.  I planted 3 hazelnut shrubs (from the Arbor Day Foundation's hazelnut project), 5 blueberry plants, 3 raspberry plants, 1 blackberry and 1 gooseberry.  The blueberry planting instructions said to get them in the ground as early as possible in the spring, but they already look sad after a couple of cold days.  Hopefully they will pull through.  

I also have some wire mesh to put around the new plants -- to keep the deer and rabbits out.  It is just a matter of cutting the mesh and assembling the little cylindrical fences.
You can also see in the photo above that I am working on my raised beds.  Last year I put down whole bags of topsoil to start my garden inside of.  I had heard that the plastic would choke out and kill the grass and that you could just grow inside the bags.  It was only half true.  While the grass under the bags did die, around the edges and where two bags met, the grass managed to come up anyway.  And I  did grow a lot of produce in those bags -- but it wasn't ideal.  This year, I raked and shoveled the topsoil (emptied from the bags last fall) to one side of the raised bed.  Then I put down cardboard and newspaper as a thick sheet mulch.  I literally picked the grass roots out with each shovel of dirt and piled up the soil on top of the cardboard -- and then did the other side of the bed.  It took a long time and made me wish I thought to put down the cardboard last year instead.

I still have to add compost and more topsoil and composted manure to build up the volume of the beds.  Then I will put more newspaper on top to help keep the weeds out.  I didn't get that completed though because the weather turned fowl and the carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand became very painful (originally, my job is what caused my carpal tunnel problems -- but apparently shoveling doesn't help the situation either).

Today we picked up some shelving for the garage at a home improvement store.  I need to get the garage organized so it is easier to work out of it this summer.  Right now there are buckets of bird seed piled in with our camping chairs and recycling bins.  I got a new garden hose and Charlie got a heavy duty pruner (he loves cutting trees for some reason).  There really is a lot to do around here -- I have chickens coming later this month and raised beds to finish and get planted.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that I had two more small raised beds to set up (got a good deal from the Tractor Supply store).  I think I made a decent amount of progress on it so far.

Friday, April 8, 2011

First thing to spring to life

The rhubarb that I planted last year is making a brave appearance as the first plant to pop out of the ground.  Three of the four plants that I planted have survived, which should be more than enough rhubarb to keep my grandmother and me supplied (Grandma LOVES rhubarb!).
I haven't given up all hope on the fourth plant yet either -- I'm kinda hoping it just makes a late appearance.  Last year, Charlie managed to weed-whack it on accident.  I was hoping the root system was strong enough to make a come back this year, but it appears that it is not going to pull through.
I don't believe I will be harvesting anything from these plants this year.  You have to let rhubarb get established before you start cutting it up.
This weekend is going to turn into a work-weekend as long as the weather is agreeable.  I'm going to be working on getting my garden soil built up with compost and sheet mulch.  We also need to start building a chicken tractor and finish assembly on the coop.  Chickens are coming around the 25th!