Sunday, June 26, 2011

Creative Juices

It amazes me what a few vacation days can do for my spirit.  I feel bursting at the seams with creativity right now but I'm not sure where to direct this creative energy.  It all started with a visit from my mother. We both needed some down time -- some girl time -- some anything-but-the-same-old-thing time.  On Wednesday our first stop was to a book store.  I found a publication called "Artful Blogging" which is giving me some inspiration (the photographs in it are lovely).  Mom got "Where Women Create" which showcases artists' studios.
We then went shopping in Frankenmuth.  We visited Those Nature People -- a wonderful smelling shop full of lotions, soap, oils, teas and spices, etc.  I found an oil blend to help me deal with my daily headaches that I get at work.  I also found more inspiration to get back into blending essential oils and making bath products.  It is something that I used to do, but have neglected for a long time.  Perhaps it is time to revive some of my forgotten interests and see where they take me.
We went to my mother's favorite shop -- Rapunzel's.  They have lovely home decor items, jewelry from local artisans, clothing and hats, and yarns/patterns for knitting and crochet.  She found a blouse and earrings for herself and I found a funky, eclectic purse which she ended up getting for me for my birthday (thanks again Mom).  I debated for a long time about whether I wanted it or not.  The purse is bright and has a variety of fabrics and textures.  It has some spirals, peace signs and some ॐ symbols (Om).  The purse resonates with me, but still I hesitated.  Mom said I needed to express my creative side more and I realized she is correct.  I have been becoming dull -- I need to liven things up in my world and get out of this rut that I am in.  Due to the nature of the internet (open to everyone and permanently out there) I cannot really go into my dreams and schemes that I am thinking in my head.  Let's just say that I am working toward de-rutting myself.
On Thursday, Mom and I enjoyed good conversation over coffee and a muffin at the Harvest Coffeehouse and Beanery.  More ideas swirled in my head.  Finally we went to Healthy Habitz -- my local health food store.  It turns out that they are opening a new space for a wellness center.  I am considering returning to doing some Reflexology on the side and that space is available to be rented for sessions.  Just one more idea to toss around for a while.
Eventually Mom had to go back home.  I still had a couple of days left of vacation and a husband willing to take me anywhere I wanted for my birthday.  Friday we went out to lunch together but I could find little energy for much else.  I think my body was trying to catch up for a lack of sleep from the long hours I've been pulling lately.  It was nice to take a day to just relax -- I even took a nap in the middle of the day.  I pulled some old photographs out and scanned them and posted some of them on facebook for friends to look through.  Yesterday, I worked outside.  I planted two blueberries, one raspberry, one blackberry, six sand cherry, two elderberry and one mulberry tree.  My knee is a bit sore from all that shoveling, but I'm feeling accomplished.  Charlie made a platform for the chicken coop to keep the chickens elevated above the wet floor (I think I mentioned that we regretted not having done this in the first place).
Today we are going to go out and enjoy the lovely weather after I finish this post.  First, I felt like using a bit of my rediscovered creativity to produce some art.  The photograph above was an image I made of some wildflowers and foliage I found in our yard.  I cut the flowers and arranged them in a small vase -- and I was pretty proud of how the arrangement turned out.  I used to arrange flowers in a previous job, another art that I would like to delve into again.  Anyway, I added some texture to the photo and de-saturated the color a bit.  I'm pretty happy with the result.  I am open to any and all critique of the photos.  I have been considering printing some of my images and matting them to sell.  Please let me know what you think.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings today as I strive to store up some of the "juices" that are flowing through my blood right now (to save for days of drought to come).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nelson Sprinkler

Last year my sprinkler was broken accidently when my friends' kids were playing with it.  One of the kids stepped on the part that moved and that was the end.  This year I found a product that replaced the old sprinkler and will certainly outlast any other sprinkler in the store.  It is a Nelson Sprinkler.

It doesn't have any moving parts, so it cannot break.  It sprays a nice large square pattern (they also have circular ones) and it is easy to move around the garden.  The sprinkler was only around $5.00 and I figure it will last forever.  What a deal!

I highly recommend these sprinklers.  Finally, a quality product for an affordable price.  I wish everything was this easy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mobile Chicken Coop and Garden Update

Two weekends ago we finally got around to making a more suitable summer home for the chickens.  The chicks were quickly outgrowing the brooder box they were staying in and we had to pull something together soon.  Charlie and I went to buy lumber and wire mesh, then recruited Charlie's father to help out.  That weekend we got a basic frame and the walls for the coop put together, but we ran out of time.  Charlie had to go out on the road for work and the chickens would have to wait another week.

Last weekend, we recruited Charlie's father and nephew to help finish up the project.  I mostly just painted the coop and helped attach the wire mesh and then stayed out of the way for the rest of the time (I supervised and worked in my garden).

The guys did a really nice job on the coop.  We didn't have any coop plans, they just started building it.  I think the only thing we regret is that we didn't make the floor of the coop raised off the ground.  We are worried that the wood will get soggy when it rains.  Other than that, it came together quite nice.  We extended the mesh on the floor of the coop, but not all the way in.  I wanted the chickens to have some room to scratch around without wire under foot.  Hopefully it is still enough mesh to keep predators out of the pen.  

The guys made sure that the coop is as secure as possible.  It has two doors that I can open to get to the food and waterer.  In the photo below, we used a large rock to keep the pen door closed for the last week.  This weekend, Charlie added latches to that door too so I don't have to keep moving that rock.  We have padlocks on all the latches.  Predators are going to have to really work hard to get into this coop.

We moved the ladies into the pen last Sunday night and they were a bit scared at first.  By morning, they were exploring the pen and enjoying the feeling of grass under their feet for the first time.  They love eating the bugs and grass and are thriving with all the extra space.  

My garden seems to be doing well this year, but it feels like it should be progressing faster than it is.  We are already one month past the last frost date and the only thing that I have been able to harvest are a few peas, some lettuce and some radishes.  I guess I got a bit of a late start on getting everything into the ground.  I have been doing pretty good at keeping the weeds picked out of the garden -- so far.  

The item that seems to be doing the best of all my plants so far is an heirloom pumpkin plant.  I had bought an heirloom pie pumpkin at a farm stand last year and saved the seeds instead of roasting them.  The pumpkin cost me less than a packet of seeds would have cost.  

I've also spent a good amount of time weeding my asparagus beds and adding more soil to them.  Last year the weeds took over the bed and I was worried I'd never get it under control.  Well, it is under control for now.  I'm hoping the asparagus will be strong enough next year to choke out any weeds that try to intrude.

Here is a photo of some radishes that I harvested yesterday.  This variety is English Breakfast.  I love the coloring on this variety.
I should get going for now -- I've got house cleaning to do and I need to feed and water the chickens.  I have to work Monday and Tuesday (23 hours between both days) then I have the rest of the week off.  It is my birthday next week and I am treating myself to some time off of work.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pets are welcome at the Farmer's Market

I always enjoy seeing all the happy dogs at the farmer's market in Frankenmuth.  They are fun to watch - they are so social with the other dogs.  There is also a stand with homemade dog biscuits and I'm sure the dogs love their own special food booth.  
I was a little surprised this morning when I saw this little guy.  What an unusual breed of dog...

I'm sure some of the people at the market thought that it was a dog.  It is not often that you meet a goat out in public.  So cute!!!


I am so exhausted lately.  I feel so badly about not posting anything lately.  This winter I struggled to find things to blog about, and now I have so much to talk about that I don't know where to start.  I've been working the same long hours lately (57 a week average) but now I also have gardening to do in my spare time and chickens to look after too.  I'm not complaining -- those are things that give me joy -- its just that I don't have much down time to write about what is going on.
This photo is of some white bleeding heart flowers in the morning, covered in mist.  The plants in my shade garden came up nicely this year.  I'm still filling it in with more plants as I go, but it is a nice start.
I've been busy planting things and pulling weeds.  I'll be posting photos soon of the garden.
We are also trying to finish building a chicken tractor tomorrow.  We got a good start on it last weekend, and it is not optional to not finish it.  The chicks are now pullets and need to get out of that brooder box before they murder each other.
On top of work and the garden and chickens, I still have the house cleaning, bills, laundry, cooking (what cooking?  who has time for real food?) to do.  I'm about out of energy reserves and need a break.  Luckily, I have next Friday the 17th off as a vacation day.  It will be my 6th year married to the love of my life.  We don't have big plans, probably just dinner and a movie -- but a date night would be relaxing and recharging to me.  The week after that, I have Wednesday thru Friday off along with the weekend.  YES!  A five day weekend!!!  It is my Birthday treat to myself.  I am going to be 35 (gasp!  Where does time go?).  Maybe that is why I am so tired lately -- I am getting old.