Saturday, August 27, 2011


Here is a look at what I have been pulling out of my garden lately and a bit of good news I'd like to share.  Things are finally starting to ripen.

I have a plethora of tomato varieties this year with different colors and flavors.  Green zebra, pink brandywine, white currant, etc.  They are like the jewels of the garden.
This year I haven't had success with my zucchini at all but the yellow summer squash and patty pan squash are doing great!  I've also had a few "volunteer" squash plants growing out of the compost pile.  The plants on the compost pile are going insane!  Leaves that are bigger than dinner plates on waist high stems!

This year I tried a few items I've never grown before.  Sweet corn is one of them.  I need to get the corn in the ground earlier next year, but I've been able to pick a couple of ears so far.  I also tried planting broom corn and have had incredible luck with that.  My intentions are to use it for fall decorations then feed it to the chickens (they already got one stalk that broke in a rainstorm.  They loved it!).
I had some amazing results with the okra I planted and Charlie and I ate fried okra this week.  Yum!  Soon I will post some photos of the unusual plants I grew this year and discuss some of the failures I've had as well.

I know I have been neglecting this blog lately and I apologize for the lack of updates.  I have had something else the has had my attention this month that is very exciting to me -- another thing coming to ripeness...
If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you have probably noticed that I don't talk about my job very much.  I really believe that talking about work in a public manor is not usually very beneficial.  On this occasion, I am going to break my own policy because I am very excited and want to share my joy with you.

For those that didn't know, I have worked in the Customer Service Department for a large utility provider in Michigan for the last 6 years.  I am very blessed to have had steady employment during this time since Michigan is really having a rough time with it's economy right now.  In fact, we have had a lot of overtime for the last 3+ years and the paychecks have been really nice.  The job I have can be very stressful though and I was really starting to feel discontented in that position -- I needed more of a challenge.
So, for the past few years I have been waiting for the right position to open up elsewhere in the company so I could apply for it.  Finally, the department that I wanted to get into had an opening and I applied for it.  I managed to get an interview that was scheduled last Monday.  That is why I only have one blog post in August before this one -- I've been prepping for the interview in my spare time and brushing up on some of the computer programs they use in that department.  The interview was intense!  Five people sat in on the interview - which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
Anyway, to make a long story short, on Thursday I was notified that I got the position!!!  I will be in a scheduling department which will involve a lot of technical skills (like reading prints) mixed with customer service skills (interacting with a variety of departments).  I'm sure there will still be overtime involved in this position, however the shift is earlier than the one I have now so I will be getting out of work earlier.  I will be working in the same building as before so I will still have contact with all of my dear friends I have made over the years.  Oh, and the people in the scheduling department are nice as can be and I already love my new boss.  I really am lucky and I'm happy that all of the hard work I have put into this company has finally ripened into something I could call a career!
So, I have a couple more weeks before I make the transition.  Then Charlie and I are going on vacation at the end of September (I hated even bringing up the vacation we had scheduled when I was hired - but it didn't end up being a problem at all).  Charlie and I are going to go on a road trip but we are still determining which way we want to go.  We were thinking of heading westward to see what we could see -- toward the Badlands or the wild west.  I'd be happy heading east though too -- to Vermont and Maine and to see the ocean again.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a good road trip starting in Michigan and lasting about a week?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pullets, Portable Coop, and One Scary Predator

The pullets are growing quickly and developing some beautiful feathers.  They are 3 months old now and so far they are staying healthy (knock on wood).  Their portable coop has been a secure home for them so far.  We have raccoons and possum in the area and so far they haven't been able to get in.
There is one predator that constantly hangs around the coop -- shown in the photo above.  He is the little stray kitty that I have been harboring.  At first the chickens pecked at him when he would stick his paw inside the coop.  Now he just likes to sit on top of the coop instead.
To be quite honest, I think the kitten is just looking for a play-mate.  He has been orphaned and his siblings disappeared shortly after his mama vanished (you can see a photo of his mama here).  He sits on the same back step that his mama sat on to beg for food.  Because his siblings are gone, he pounces on tufts of grass and bats at flowers instead.  I've given him a few toys and I play with him when I can, but he is still lonely.
This evening, when I was feeding the chickens, the kitten was on top of the coop again.  I pet him for a while (something he just discovered last week -- being petted by that big scary human feels nice) and he even started purring for me.  I noticed one of his toes on his hind foot looked wet, as if it had been bleeding or something.  I vowed to keep an eye on it to make sure it didn't get worse, then husked the corn for dinner and left him alone outside.  While cooking the corn, I discovered the cause of the wet toe.  The baby had fallen asleep on the back step and was "kneeding" the air and sucking on his toe.  It was the most adorable thing I have seen in a very long time (since Sassy used to suck her tail when she was very little)!  I'm glad his toe is okay, but I feel bad for the little guy because he obviously misses his mama.  I crumbled and gave him a little bit of milk to comfort him.  Yeah, I'm a push-over.
Anyway, we need to figure out what to do with the chickens this winter.  The coop is too small for them to be closed in and it gets wet inside too easily.  We would like to get a shed, but they seem pricey.  We are, of course, concerned about security for the chickens so it needs to be a sturdy home too.  If anyone has a brilliant solution, feel free to share your ideas.