Dear Jessica…

Just in case you don’t remember – Oregon is REALLY wet.

The thing is – when it’s not – it can be simply glorious.

Like when Spring comes to call…

Today the clouds were fluffy – with an occasional shower tucked in there – the sky was blue, the sun even shone some. And the green is coming back in force.

(I’m not gonna lie – I’m kinda in love with this beautiful little farm I drove past today.)

Ignore the power lines on this one – focus on the daffodils… tons and tons of daffodils. Hard to believe they’re nearly done blooming. The tulips in the front yard are just about ready to bloom!

Just in case you wondered – the traffic in Cedar Mill sucks just as bad as ever. Yeah – not much to miss in that department!

Oh – and look! The babies are getting big! They came home 6 weeks ago. Hard to believe they’ll start laying in just 3 more months! Not sure, but I think I got a roo in there… Wasn’t Mr. Darcy a Cuckoo Maran roo? I can’t remember!

Oh – and Pepper got a haircut. She seems quite happy with it. (As are we!) And look!

…the willow is getting leaves galore! (Yes, that does mean quite a few of the girls have decided it’s time to sleep in the willow at night again. Ugh!) Oh – and…

…the tulip tree across the street is in bloom. Sublime!

So – you should come home. I miss you. A lot.

Love,

Your dear, sweet, adoring Mother.

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Happy Birthday, BiL!

For maybe as long as he’s been able to talk, BiL has been wanting snow on his birthday.

Today he turns 14, and he got his wish!

Not a bad thing, getting a snow day on your 14th Birthday, huh?!

Happy Birthday, kid. You make me proud.

Love, Mom.

It’s January, right?!

A little over a week ago as I was driving out of the parking lot that one of my favorite Local Yarn Stores (The Knitting Bee) I stopped at the stop light and looked to my left and there, in the little median was a shrub – with little flower buds a blooming.

January!

A little trip out into my own yard revealed this craziness:

Yes, my hydrangea is putting out leaves.

Lots of leaves.

My garlic bed is pushing up shoots like crazy.

Daffodils are convinced it’s their time to do their thing.

The tulip tree is putting forth buds galore.

…as is the Lilac tree.

The willow is acting like it’s getting ready to send forth leaves in short order.

And I have violets in bloom.

Here’s the forecast for the week:

It was 51 degrees yesterday on Mt. Hood.

It was in the 60’s yesterday at the Coast.

I don’t want to jinx it or anything – but I really want to hope that it’s going to really and truly be the end of Winter here. Please, Spring – come to stay!

I know that’s very whiny of me to say. (Blame it on the head cold.)

Especially when my daughter sent me this picture from Boston yesterday:

Sorry honey, I’m so past Winter.

Come on, Spring! I’m rooting for you!

Ahhh… Spring!

I’ve been trying for a couple of days to get this posted to this here blog… You see there’s this cool new slideshow feature that you can use here on WordPress that I really want to try out. But, it appears that I’m perhaps not as blog “with-it” as it required to utilize said feature. So – I’ll resort to doing things the old fashioned way – which, honestly, if I think about it much – has been working fabulously! Maybe not as flashy – but fine, nonetheless!

So here goes – some signs that Spring has finally arrived. Boy, am I glad!

Now that’s what I like to see! Sunshine and temperatures inching toward 80!

How can one not love Lilacs on a sunny Spring day? Aren’t they beautiful?

And of course, seeing the garden come to life is lovely as well… Even if my evil chickens did denude my broccoli starts!

Note to self… time to get the garden protected from the evil chickens!

Look! The peas are coming up! Hooray!

Sigh… I love Spring.

You may have been around long enough to know this about me – but the truth of the matter is the fact that I love Spring for one really big reason… it means that it’s almost SUMMER!!!

John has moved the portable chicken fencing to enclose what we call the “old” garden – i.e. the plot that was here when we first moved here. The girls are doing a nice job of tilling up the bed and trimming around the edges where the grass likes to try and skip the divider and head right into the garden. Yes, they can be evil (particularly when there are fresh, succulent vegetable starts about)- but chickens are so handy sometimes!

Remember the babies that Jezebel hatched 8 weeks ago? They’re getting so grown up!

The one on the right – I’m fairly sure – is a roo. He has ALL the signs of being male. Which is such a bummer. I am pleased that they’re both Silver Laced Wyandottes, though – aren’t they pretty?

The baby babies are 5 weeks old now – and hilarious!

“Dust bathing” in pine shavings – nutty chicks!

Look Ma! I’m cool – I can make it up to the Big Girl roost!

Camera shy!

Jess and William heard that you could hypnotize a chicken – and decided to see if it would work on Ducky…

…not so much.

Jessica does, by the way, have very special chicken wrangling skills. If any of us ever have a hard time cornering and catching a chick or chicken – Jessica is who we call. She does have a wonderful gentle spirit and kind heart… Maybe the girls know that!

What will I do when she goes clear across the country to college in the Fall?

Jess – helping the girls find big, fat, juicy worms.

We’ve noticed, John and I, that the crab apple (above), pear trees, cherry, and apple trees are all loaded with blossoms. When the wind blows it “rains” blossoms – and yet the trees still seem to be loaded.

It should be interesting to see how much fruit we actually see this year, after last year’s less than stellar outcomes.

All in all – it’s shaping up to be a lovely Spring. I’m so glad!

Spring is sprung!

This is probably just about as random a collection of photos as you’re gonna find, but it’s spring – and I was outdoors with the camera – and so – well, here you go!

BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs has got itself an egg sign – and finally – a holder – and it even works! Woo Hoo!

The peas are looking like they may well give us something to snack on soon. I keep looking for a little pea pod to snap off and pop in my mouth – but we’re not there quite yet… soon, tho!

Is there anything more beautiful than Japanese Iris?

This is the new garden plot that John has laid out, tilled, and prepared. We got corn, yellow crookneck squash, and zucchini planted in it yesterday.

Do you have sons? Cause if you do – this next photo will make total sense. Look! One of the pear trees is armed!

The flower bed along the street (adjacent to the low fence at the front of the property) got planted yesterday, too. There will hopefully be lots of Shirley Poppies, nastursiums, and sunflower seeds of varying types.

There are now 30 tomato plants of different varieties planted in the main garden plot, thanks to my husband’s ever diligent efforts.

We love these trellises John put together for tomatoes. They are so easy to tie up (we use construction tape – it’s amazing, and cheap at Home Depot!), and they get lots of good sun and ventilation this way.

This is John’s stack of lumber for the chicken coop expansion project that he’s working on.

He’s removed the little run that was attached to the coop – that was the first step of the project, the demo. Now he’s going to frame out the new addition area, and floor it first.

Can you see them? Baby pears!

Hanging out in the yard with Pepper, admiring the planting John did yesterday.

Pepper, the wonder chicken dog at play!

Gosh I love this time of year! Is there anything better than hanging out in the yard with the one you love and planting some amazing stuff that will enrich your lives?

I once fell in love…

I was age 16 – away working at a camp for the summer in the Seattle area – far from home – and had a weekend stretching in front of me with lots of free time – and not much to do. I was a little bummed. A friend said, “Well, you could read the Chronicles of Narnia again…”

“The Chronicles of what?” I asked.

“You know, “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” is the first one…” she prompted.

I looked at her blankly.

Her mouth dropped open and she held her hand out and said, “WAIT RIGHT HERE!” She dropped everything (literally) and went running full speed ahead toward her cabin. She came back at same break-neck speed with a cube-like thing clutched to her breast, and completely out of breath. “Here!” She panted, shoving said cube my direction. I grabbed it, looked at it, and realized it was a set of books. Seven books, to be exact.

Little did I know that day all those years ago that my life would be inalertably changed because of my friend’s generosity.

I spent the day sprawled out on a blanket – part of the day on the floating dock at the beach, the other part in the shade of a tree not far from my own cabin – plowing through the first few books. (Have I ever mentioned I’m a voracious reader?) By the time the weekend was over I’d read all seven books – and fallen completely head over heels in love…

with Aslan… of course!

with Narnia… duh!

with the beauty, the poetry, the symbolism, the justice, the symmetry.

So much to love.

Do you know – that here, nearly 30 years later (it’s true, I’m turning 46 this year!) I still re-read the Chronicles? I’ll be honest, I’m a little ADD, and at one point in time I came across an amazing thing – audiobooks! – and found a lovely set by Radio Family Theatre of the Chronicles – not just narrated – but acted out – and purchased it. (Here’s a link – if you have children – buy it! If you love beauty – buy it! If you have any kind of road trip in your future – buy it!) And, of course, I’ve seen the recently produced movies of “The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian” – which honestly, are good – but in my opinion, stray a little too much from the original.

Last weekend I attended the Beth Moore Conference here in Portland with two very dear friends. It wasn’t easy for me to go – me in a cast, needing to use a walker and a scooter to get around and through the crowd of 7300 women there, and needing to keep my foot elevated. I was a little tempted to bail. I’m so glad I didn’t.

The past nearly 8 weeks – following the surgery on my ankle, and my time needing to allow my body to heal and graft the donor materials into my body – I’ve felt a little… I don’t know. isolated? Well, it hasn’t just been just since then. Do you ever feel like your heart is getting tired? weary? hard? isolated? And worse – that you don’t mind?

I think that conference last weekend (my first exposure to Beth Moore – shhh… I’m a Precepts girl! I know, Kay and Beth are BFF!) was the beginning of the thaw.

Spring has been helping with the thaw, too, I think.

This afternoon as I was sitting on my comfy bed knitting away, the movie of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” came on TV. (Have I mentioned yet that I’ve seen more TV in the last 8 weeks than I have in the entirety of my lifetime combined prior to this surgery?!) I thought, “Ah… Narnia.”

Aren’t visual reminders a sweet thing?

I was reminded a new of some important life lessons…

I don’t ever want to be a land or country that falls under the alluring spell of a temptress that turns me to stone cold.

I want to be like the trees – once awakened – who exude beauty, grace, and peace!

I want to be breathed on by Aslan – daily – just in case my heart is hardening.

I want to remember when I see Spring coming to life around me – here in my beautiful corner of the world – that I want my heart to be growing and maturing and bearing fruit.

I want to have an open invitation to bury my hands into the golden mane of the Great Lion – knowing that there is nothing to fear because I have been rescued.

I want to never lose my fear of Aslan – that tinge of it at least – because, you know, He’s not a tame lion.

I want to live my life expectantly – knowing that the Son of the High King is working things together – and will one day arrive.

I know – totally off topic. Not chicken or garden related (much). But it is real life related – for me, anyway. Sorry to be so random. But I’m feeling pretty darn thankful for Spring right now!

Signs of Spring

Look! Little wood violets – they’re here! Hooray! (They didn’t even seem to mind the snow the day after this was taken.)

And yes – those are daffodils thinking VERY seriously about blooming!

And this is the pole sugar snap peas package….

…and the Oregon sugar pod peas package….

…which can only mean: we’ve got actual seed in the ground! Woo Hoo! Garden 2009 is off and running!

We’re actually feeling a little behind. Well, in some things at least. John has been hard at work expanding the garden. We’ve had a decent representation of seeds that we had every intention of having started by now. Last night we finally completed the balance of our seed order. Phew! Now all we need to do is decide on which variety (varieties?) of potatoes we want to grow in the potato condo that we want to give a whirl this year. I hope to have a good portion of our seed started in the coming week…
I also want to set up the AeroGarden that my AMAZING and FABULOUS husband gifted me with for Christmas and Birthday this year. (I’ve been interested in them for ages.) But since I’m having ankle reconstruction surgery tomorrow and will be non-weight bearing for 4 to 6 weeks – I’m not gonna rush it. Shhh…. I secretly have a goal of that being one of the first projects that I complete once I’m home from the hospital. They’re saying I’ll probably only be hospitalized for 2 or 3 days, so maybe before the weekend is over even! Wouldn’t that be cool?
And… after much debate, much going back and forth, actual placing of orders, and subsequent canceling of orders, we’ve finally decided we ARE going to add new chicks to the flock this year. The order actually just went in tonight, and sometime in the coming weeks we’ll be getting several of the following breeds: Sussex, Minorca, Delaware, Andalusian, Americauna, and Cuckoo Maran. You can rest assured that there will be lots of pictures when the little fluff balls arrive.
John, in the meantime, has been brainstorming and designing an addition to the coop that will allow us to adequately accomodate an expanded flock. We’re also thinking seriously about fencing about half of the property – not only to keep the girls in (I’m getting tired of chasing them home from down the street!), but also to keep the deer out of the garden. We’ll see…
So – I’m excited. I’m so ready for Spring!

Tree Huggers!

I’ve lived in Oregon since I was 4 years old. When I was a kid I tried to laugh and understand when people would joke, “Oregonians don’t tan – they rust!” I mean, huh? Doesn’t everyone get rain? Lots and lots of rain?

I can admit that as I’ve grown older that the rain has begun to – well, wear on me a bit. Usually some time around February John and I look at each other and say, “We live here because????” I’m sure his memories of living in Arizona right at the forefront of his thoughts! Me – just *longing* for sunshine and warmth! We vowed several years ago – should we ever manage to scrape up enough money – we really ought to travel someplace warm come every February!

A relatively new friend asked me – after having relocated here from the Rocky Mountain region of the country, “So when does it rain?” You see, we met when it was sunny and warm and beautiful out. Without half a thought I said, “From October to July 5th.” She looked at me and laughed and said, “No really!” To which I said, “Seriously.”

This February I’ve been amazingly content. I haven’t felt that squirmy feeling like I gotta get out of Dodge! I haven’t been spending time looking vainly at travel bargains to the tropics.

I found out why last night. On the news they said, “And as you know,” obviously I didn’t! “we’re 2.5 inches behind on rainfall for the month of February – so th rain we’ll be getting this week will be really helpful!”

They’re saying we’re gonna get 1/2 an inch of rain today, tomorrow, and the next day.

Now I’m feeling squirmy! LOL!

BUT – we must ask the girls how they feel about the rain – cause it’s been raining buckets this morning.

Apparently they aren’t much amused, either! See them down there? Hugging that big old Willow tree? Trying to get out of the rain?

I wish I could get a picture of what it looks like when they don’t know that I’m there – all 14 of them are ringed around that tree – pretty much kissing it! – trying to stay out of the rain.
They’re so goofy!

You’d think they didn’t know there was a nice, dry, full of brand new sweet-smelling pine shavings, coop – just a few feet away. BUT NO – they might miss out of something, so they stay out in the rain.
Thanks girls! I needed the laugh!

Spring Cleaning!

Today John mucked out the coop. We do the deep litter method of chicken keeping. That means that – typically – once or twice a year it will be mucked out and started all over again with fresh pine shavings. Throughout the course of the year additional fresh pine shavings are added to the top, when things need “freshened up” so to speak.

Aside from finding a WHOLE BUNCH of chicken poo, John also found 10 – yes, I said TEN – eggs – all of varying age. Elijah, my inquisitive nephew, decided to squeeze one of the eggs to see what would happen! Yeah – rotten egg is not such a pleasant experience when you end up wearing it.

See that white egg there behind John?

This Welsummer was pretty put out with John as he worked. She’d come in – squak at him – supervise his work for a while, leave for a while, then come back and repeat!

BB – along with all of the other girls – was trying to figure out what the heck we were doing in her coop!

You see – we do have a plan! (Of course!) John reattached the door that was taken off last fall – so that we can divide the coop once again. The big girls will sleep on the side that the nest boxes are on…

and the chicks that we’ll be getting this spring will hang out on the other side of the coop!
We are looking at adding chicks from the following breeds this year:
Cuckoo Maran
Ameracauna
Sussex
Minorca
Delaware
Barnevelder
Andalusian

I don’t know which of these we’ll actually be able to get our hands on – but I’ve started the process of seeking them out.

Tonight, the big girls were a little confused about all that was going on tonight when they were going to bed at first – but eventually settled down for the night just as they always do.

On a sad note. Angel, our California White with the prolapsed vent, has not responded to therapy. Even worse, her prolapsed vent seems to have gone necrotic – I believe she’s been pecking HERSELF. We had her in isolation – away from the other girls – so that they would not harm her – but apparently that wasn’t good enough. So we’ve decided to cull her from the flock. It seems the only humane thing to do.

Getting Ready for Winter

This is a very pretty flower I picked up at Home Depot in late Spring. I wanted it in the vegetable garden because I felt it would attract pollinators. It did. It’s lovely. And, it’s pretty darn hardy. Today I transplanted it out of the garden – which hopefully will get tilled tomorrow – and into planters on the front porch. Here’s the info about this flower – Sunny Day Tickseed – a type of coreopsis. But you wanna know what bugs me about this plant? This little blurb on the plant identifier tag: “Protected by US Patent Laws and/or Canadian Plant Breeder’s Rights. Illegal propagation is prohibited.” Okay – how stupid is that?! I’m sure someone somewhere thinks it’s a good thing to have intellectual property rights to the propagation of this plant – but one has to wonder… what if it accidentally is propagated naturally? Will I be prosecuted? Ugh!

I hope this pictures comes out okay… In the background – see that truly BIG pile of leaves? The boys worked hard today to amass it. They’re planning on building a fort from the raked up leaves. Ummm… today was one of those rare REALLY blustery days here in Oregon. Supposed to be tomorrow, too… This Mom can’t help but wonder if this plan may somehow be, well, difficult to execute fully. 🙂

ALL of the animals are loving the leaves. Pepper likes to roll in them. Jake and Caleb like to curl up in them. The chickens like to scratch through them… And soon, I hope, they will be moved to my compost heap – helping to make wonderful compost for my garden one of these days!


Today John worked hard to finish up pulling up all of the remnants of the garden. The chickens LOVED following behind and scratching through everything.


Wow – it’s that time of year ago – time to start strategizing what next year’s garden will be.

It’s wild how strange it is that we’ve come full circle. No more green beans… This will be my garlic patch – and soon! Thanks to Danni‘s and Melinda‘s examples and excellent information – I will FINALLY – after years of feeling completely inadequate and definitely not smart enough to attempt it – plant my first garlic patch. Woo Hoo! I’ll be sure to report later!

And here is my piled-high compost heap. The girls are investingating – trying to determine if there’s anything worth finding in there.

And here is my new composter. Kinda wild, huh? It’s called Earthmaker – it’s an Aerobic Composter. It involves a three step process – it has three different compartments – see?

Interesting, huh? I like it thus far, and will be sure to give updates as to how effective it is – or is not!

It occurred to me today – Hey! I should harvest the seed from my basil! Why have I never thought of that before? So, I went out with my scissors and a saran wrapped basket (so anything that escapes a seed pod will not be lost between the slats of the basket), and went to work. Here’s a peek. I’ll probably get around to coaxing the seed out of the pods tomorrow – I’ll be sure to report back! But here’s a great resource I found online about harvesting basil seed.

So – it’s true… it’s full force fall with winter on the way. I find it nearly impossible to believe it’s only a week until November. But I think I’m ready for it now. I think the fact that it hasn’t been horribly soggy has helped. I may even be ready for the rain. We’ll see!