Posts tagged ‘nature’

September 19, 2013

Just call me Noah {part 1}

It’s been a crazy last few months!  On April 19, 2013 a major flood hit our area.  It all started on Friday and the kids were at school.  I knew the river was higher than I’d ever seen it, but never anticipated just how it would affect our family.  While sitting in the living room, I happened to notice my neighbor talking to the mail carrier.  Then the mail truck turned around and headed back the way she came.  Odd.  So I went out to check in with my neighbor.  He said the road was flooded and asked if I needed help getting stuff out of our basement.  I told him the Hubs would be home to help me after work, but thanks.  My concern grew, though, when he insisted, telling me I wouldn’t have time.  Yikes! He and I worked quickly to pull everything from the basement floor up into the living room.  Then I grabbed my camera and assessed the situation. Here’s what I saw.


Um…yeah. I started to freak out a little bit. I called the Hubs and told him he needed to come home right away. In the meantime my sister-in-law offered to let us come spend the weekend with them until the flood waters receded, so I started throwing stuff into bags for the kids and myself.  Since I was getting more and more anxious the longer I waited, I decided to go pick A and M up early from school.  The Hubs stayed back to continue moving stuff up and out of the basement.  By the time I left to head to school, the water on the other street out of the neighborhood was up to the bottom of my van.  I kept telling the Hubs to hurry up or he’d get trapped and not be able to drive out of the neighborhood.  Finally, at about 6:00pm he left {WAY too late in my opinion} and just barely made it out!
We enjoyed our impromptu sleepover with my brother and his family – A and M loved spending time with their cousins 🙂
Saturday morning we heard from one of our neighbors that the water rose a ton overnight and that our barn/garage was under a foot of water.  The roads were impassible without a boat.  The Hubs and my brother went over to the house to continue working on moving stuff and when they got there they realized that our chickens were trapped!  The water was actually waist-deep in the back yard and the door to the chicken coop was completely submerged, trapping the chickens up on their roosting bar.  Poor girls!  Fortunately the Hubs was able to save all 7 of our little ladies and canoe them to safety.
The great chicken rescue!
Sunday was the day the river crested, and our house was surrounded by water and the basement was completely full, 1 stair step away from reaching our first floor.  We never anticipated the water getting so high and we didn’t get anything off of the ledges around the basement walls, so all of my canning jars and a bunch of other stuff was floating in the nasty flood water.  Ugh!
We weren’t sure when we’d be able to get back into our house, so we packed up a bunch more stuff and headed  to the in-laws’ house.  They had just left for Florida for a week, so it was the perfect time for us to move in and settle in for a while.  Little did we know just how long that while would be…
Advertisements
May 9, 2012

We’re chicken farmers!

So, I’ve been wanting to get chickens for a few years now.  I’ve been buying local fresh, free-range eggs for a while and thought it would be super cool to be able to have our own.  The Hubs wasn’t convinced, but kept an open mind.  Recently, after visiting with a client who he claims is “just like us!” {suburban young family} and keeps chickens, he decided he was ready.  All in.  So I got to checking out Craigslist {really the best resource for getting started}.  I found a cute little A-frame coop about a mile or so away from our home, and Hubs and the Monkeys drove over to pick it up.

{Coop sweet coop}

We had to wait a bit on the chickens since we were leaving for Spring Break, but once we got back it was go-time!  I made almost daily research visits to the Tractor Supply store where “Tim” {the chicken “expert” at the store} started to comment that I was there as much as he was!  Then I finally connected with a few chicken farmers who were selling their chickens and set up times to come get them.  This was really happening!  I couldn’t help but have these provincial Martha Stewart visions of sweetly clucking chickens, gathering heaps of colorful eggs in the perfect wire basket, and a sundrenched field of wildflowers in the background.  My chicken livin’ was going to be perfect!

While the Hubs was working late one evening, our friends came over and helped me set up the temporary fencing around the coop.  {I love having formerly Amish friends!}

{ready to rock and roll}

After preschool, M and I drove to pick up the first 2 – a black and a white “turken”.  Turkens are not an attractive breed.  They look like a cross between a turkey and a chicken and are also called “naked neck” chickens.  On the way home, M named the black one Max {short for Maxine because she’s a girl, of course} and the white one is Ruby.  Can you tell he watches a little Nick Jr.?   I hadn’t had time to pick up any feed yet, so I thought we’d drop the chickens off at home real quick then run to Family Farm & Home for the feed.  No big thing, right?  Wrong.

{this picture does them way more justice than they deserve}

I–very nervously–brought the tote into the chicken yard and gingerly tipped it on it’s side to let the girls out.  They took one step into their new living quarters…two steps and BAM!  Max flew the coop – literally!  Who knew they could fly over fences that high?!  Certainly not this girl.  I freaked out, of course.  I tried chasing her.  She’s fast.  I tried sneaking up on her.  She has great hearing and eyes in the back of her head {ok, actually on the side, but they may as well have been in the back}. I followed her into and through the woods.  She’s much smaller than I am and doesn’t have to duck under branches.  M suggested I lure her with string cheese, which he just happened to be eating at the moment.  It actually worked – sort of.  She ate it, but as soon as we got her close to the pen, I had to open the door and she’d run away again.  I was sweating and thinking of bad words.  I chased after and lured that dumb chicken for over an hour with no luck.  And if I’m being totally honest, I’m not exactly sure what I would’ve done if I’d actually caught up with her.  Pounce on her?  Grab her?  No idea.  Eventually she found something interesting right at the edge of the woods and stayed there for a while.   I was about to go into the woods to try to gently “guide” her out of the woods toward the pen when Monkey A and our neighbor friend, E, got off the school bus.  They were both SO excited to see the chickens that they were literally screaming down the driveway!  Oy!  I quickly ran to them and apprised them of the situation.  I tried to get them to help me trap Max so I could catch her, but somewhere between the yard and the woods {where I was crawling through prickly raspberry bushes and under low-hanging branches}, the girls lost track of Max.  I did too.  I searched and searched and finally gave up.  She was lost.  Some animal was going to have a nice chicken dinner.  In all the excitement, Ruby got flustered and flew out, too.  But at least she was sitting calmly in the corner of the garden.  I called the Hubs and left a tearful message on his voicemail about how I was a total and immediate failure.  Then I called my friend, the formerly Amish one – CY, sat down on the ground and cried while I told her what happened.  Off in the distance, mid-cry, I heard my neighbor calling my name.  Huh.  I headed across the yard and heard my neighbor call my name again, asking if I wanted him to grab my chicken.  Nearly hanging up on CY, I yelled YES!  With a net, he caught Max, brought her back, picked up Ruby and put her in the pen.  Then he helped me zip-tie the heck out of some bird netting over the top of the pen so they wouldn’t fly out anymore.   Thank GOD for great neighbors with nets!

That evening, after the kids and I–very quickly–went out to get feed and some pizza {no way was I cooking after that debacle!}, A & M wanted to eat out by the chickens, so we had a CHICK-NIC 🙂

{a chick-nic dinner}

All I could say after that was, these chickens had better give me an egg after that “welcome home” party.  Guess they agreed.

{our first beautiful egg!}

{so proud}

June 6, 2011

Gardening Edition: Pruning your tomato plants

At best, I’m a gardening rookie; a novice; a wanna-be.  I’m trying to always learn new stuff, but I’ve never been a great studier, so I get overwhelmed learning too much at once.  That’s why a recent “field trip” was perfect for me!  The kids and I went with my mom to her friend C.P.’s  house – she has many, many chickens and huge gardens.  That morning C.P. and her husband had planted 150 tomato plants in their garden…and still had a TON of plants {that they had grown under grow lights in their basement} that they were now selling off.  I was excited to try some of their many varieties like green sausage, black krim, black plum, 2 kinds of romas, big beef hybrid, yellow pear, large red cherry, delicious, gardener’s delight, triple crop climber {the plant can grow 10-25 FEET tall and grows tomatoes as big as your face!}, and one other that I can’t remember right now.  While picking out my tomatoes, C.P. gave me a quick lesson in pruning tomato plants.  Pruning?  Who knew??  Anyway, whenever you see a little leaf shooting out of the crook like this:

{Sucker!}

you need to pick off the “sucker branch” below it.  The sucker will not bear fruit and will essentiall suck all the nutrients from the fruit-bearing “branches”.  Don’t want that now, do we?

{pick that sucker}

I did this with all my tomato plants.  At first they looked tall, skinny, and funny. 

{A little topheavy...}

 But have no fear!  Those fruit-bearing “branches” will grow and fill out.  And the best part is, you’ll get lots of tomatoes!

{filling out nicely}

 Maybe this is all Gardening 101, but I grew several tomato plants {semi-successfully} last season without having a clue about pruning them.  Now I’m hoping for a large crop that’ll give me plenty to can and make salsa with.  I saw the first sign of produce progress with some bright yellow blossoms today – yay!

{I see lycopene in my future}

 And, just for fun, here are a few other photos from the garden…

{my newly constructed pea trellis}

{emerging fiesta - black beans!}{tiny little carrot sprouts}{doesn't look much like spinach yet, does it?}{itty bitty bells - peppers, that is}

Posted in My {un}Perfect Garden | 1 Comment »

Tags: , , ,
February 3, 2011

Making the best of the white stuff

School was cancelled yesterday {bummer!} due to the Big Blizzard of 2011…or something.  Yeah, there was a lot of snow, but it didn’t seem like a real true blizzard.  But maybe that’s because most of it happened during the night and I didn’t leave the house so I didn’t experience the roads.  Who knows?  Anyway, the roads must’ve been good enough for a Trail Blazer to get through because one of A’s friend’s dad drove over to pick A and her friend/neighbor E.N. up for a playdate.  {YESSS!}  Thanks J.I. for that 🙂  While A was gone, M and I headed outside to take advantage of the big piles of snow.  E.N. and her dad had dug a tunnel while shoveling the snow this morning and M was having a great time crawling through it {thanks K.N. for snapping this pic}!

{crawling through the neighbors' tunnel}

 After a while M decided he wanted to dig one of our own, so back across the street we trudged.  It was tricky finding a drift tall enough, but we did it.  Apparently my tunnel-digging skills don’t quite match up to B. N.’s, but I got the job done. 

{woohoo we made it through! Yes, the tunnel opening did get a bit bigger than this...}

M had fun crawling through and I even made it through a few times.  I had to wriggle through on my stomach and my claustrophobic tendencies kicked in giving me visions of being trapped underneath the collapsed tunnel, but other than that it was great 😉  And, despite the great amounts of snow and low temps, this mama managed to stay quite warm with all that digging! 

{TA-DA!}

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Tags: , , , , , ,
August 8, 2010

How does my garden grow?

…with some success and a lot of mess and green beans all in a row.

Some of the vegetables in my garden have run their course for the season.  The zucchini and peas are pretty much done.  I planted a second crop of peas, but unfortunately I’ve got mutant ninja watermelon vines taking over my pea trellis!   Tonight as I went out to the garden to take stock of what can be harvested, what can be composted {yep, we’re composting now}, and what’s dead, I spotted the black bean plants.

Now, I love black beans and had such high hopes for growing my own.  Unfortunately these plants had been a bit of a disappointment from the beginning.  When they started to grow they looked just like the green beans.  What?!  I asked around to see if this was normal {not sure what I was expecting them to look like?}, but nobody here in Michigan seems to be growing black beans.  My other frustration was that when the rabbits would get into the garden {and that’s a whole ‘nother story}, they’d make a beeline for the black bean leaves.  Nevermind the fact that the green bean plants were right next to the black beans and {to me, anyway} they looked just alike.  The rabbits never touched the green bean leaves.  Umm…ok.  So I just sort of left the plants alone.  Stopped caring that there were no leaves left on the plants and the beans were brown/drying up.

{Sad, sad black bean plants}

{Little brown bean}

Ok, back to tonight.  For some reason I decided to split open one of these dried up ol’ beans and {gasp} inside were black beans!  I’d checked a few weeks ago and there were white beans inside, so I wasn’t hopeful.  I excitedly grabbed a bowl and started harvesting my precious black bean pods.  After my “shelling” I ended up with a whopping 2.57oz {yes, ounces} of black beans.  Not much, but you’d better believe I’ve got them soaking in the kitchen right now!

{YAY for little black beans!}

Another disappointment is the carrots in my garden.  I suspect my soil isn’t loose enough, so I’ll give them one more shot next year when we bring new soil in and do a better job tilling.  Anyway… I felt like my carrots had “cooked” long enough  and I decided to pull them all.  Bummer, bummer, bummer.  I got three that even resembled carrots.  Even through my disappointment I was proud enough of my three baby carrots to throw them into my chopped salad 🙂

{silly little carrots}

So there’s the skinny on my latest {un}perfect gardening goings-on.  In the next week or so our watermelons should be ready to harvest–yum!

Posted in My {un}Perfect Garden | Leave a Comment »

Tags: , ,
July 19, 2010

Girly Man

image

{A man, a chainsaw and a paper skirt}

I got The Hubs a chainsaw for Father’s Day.  He’s like a giddy little boy with his toy!  Today it was too hot to wear jeans and he didn’t want his legs to get pelted with tiny pieces of wood so he found this {un}perfect alternative.  I can’t stop giggling!  So {un}manly!

Posted in {un}Perfect People | 2 Comments »

Tags: , , , , ,
July 14, 2010

Underwater Garden

 

{An underwater garden}

Upon returning home from a camping trip over Memorial weekend, I found this.  {sigh}

Thank God, all the water had drained by the next morning and all is well.  We must have some really sandy soil.  How fabulously {un}perfect!

Posted in My {un}Perfect Garden | Leave a Comment »

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: