Sunday, May 30, 2010


If there was ever any question before, we have now definitely become true rednecks.

JP drove out to OH this afternoon to pick up his long belated birthday present: a 2006 Honda Rancher 350 ATV.

We all took a ride this evening, and even pulled the girls in the wagon. Kali was beside herself, and raced along side it at top speed.

We really need a barn for all of this stuff!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


It's high time for me to post some pictures of progress on the hex house.

Now that the roof and deck are on, most of the work has been inside, which is harder to document. The stairs are in, as are all of the interior walls. Dad has been working on wiring, and has the basement finished. He also has all but one of the exterior doors and windows installed in the basement and first floor. There will be 5 more in the gazebo up top.

Mom has been spending hours and hours doing this:

She is sanding the interior of the logs so that they can stain the walls.

Meanwhile, we have finally finished putting up the fence around the garden. We started with 3 foot wide landscaping cloth, then pounded 7 foot T-posts in a foot every 10 feet. Then we attached 5 foot deer fencing, with 2 feet of chicken wire at the bottom. The chicken wire is stapled to the ground with garden staples every 18". Finally, the 8 foot terminal posts were pounded in 2 feet and the garden gate was installed. All very complex, but hopefully it will keep the critters big and small out of the garden, and we shouldn't have to weed-eat the weeds under/around the fencing. Our scarecrow, "Lazy Laura", is at work, standing around and watching the birds.

We have a lot of things planted now...tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, sweet corn, carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach, beets, and turnips. I still need to get some jalapeno plants to put out, and some herbs. We will also plant a couple of more plantings of corn a week or two apart. There will be a bunch of the garden that is unused this year, so perhaps we can put some more flowers in there.

Those peas that we planted in the mud last week are popping up...progress of another kind!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Scratchin' in the dirt

It's been a spell since I've checked in. We've been on a short vacation-ish trip. was a vacation for the girls and I, but JP had to sit in conferences for 3 1/2 days straight. We ambled down to VA to visit JP's family, then on to Williamsburg to the Great Wolf Lodge.

The girls and I spent 3 days playing in the water park, and doing a hotel-wide scavenger hunt called "Magic Quest".

On Sunday, we meandered over to Staunton, to visit the Frontier Museum. We strolled through the rain for awhile, but basically had the place to ourselves.

We were a bit envious of the masonry furnace at the 600's German House...wanted one of those in our 2009 Poplar Ridge House! At the 1820's American House, J tried her hand at using a draw knife to carve a wooden handle.

We got home late Sunday night...a day and a half earlier than we expected!

JP and I spent the extra time off working on the garden (got the rest of the deer fence up...all we are lacking now is a gate) and mowing. The girls and I planted some flower seeds and transplanted all of the tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins and cucumbers into the garden.

This evening I took the girls to the circus in the Giant Eagle parking lot. They had a great time...rode an elephant and ate cotton candy. I came home with a head ache.

I'm beat. Vacationing (oh yeah...and gardening) really wears one out!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Planting Peas

The girls and I attempted to plant peas in the drizzle yesterday, but got chased back in the house by thunder and downpours.

It poured some more this morning, but the sun was out this afternoon, so we headed back out. The mud in the garden was so deep that it sucked our feet down in and squished between our toes. Mmmmmmm. We got 4 double rows of peas planted (each the full width of the garden - 50 feet). I also put out the 8 acorn squash plants that we started indoors several weeks ago.

We still have butternut squash plants, pumpkin plants, cucumbers and lots of tomatoes to put out, plus plenty of seeds to plant: lettuce, carrots, radishes, basil, spinach, turnips, etc, etc.

It was good to be in the dirt, despite the fact that it was so sloppy. It almost took my mind off the parking ticket I got in Morgantown this morning.

We are definitely going to have a good crop of rocks this year.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today is a Gift

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why it is called the present." -Master Oogway (Kung Fu Panda)

I know the music and dialog from many of the movies that the girls enjoy from hearing them in the back seat while we are driving to and from Morgantown on our weekly trips. I heard the above quote this week, and thought it was worth sharing.

Today truly was a gift. Our family has plans mid-week next week, and lots to accomplish before then. Most days lately have included an appointment and an errand, along with school and whatever gardening I can slip in. This morning, the girls and I had dental appointments while the van was in the shop across the street, followed by grocery shopping. We managed to accomplish all of that, and finish school work in record time. I even spent 2 hours mowing grass, hung out the wash, and got some of my shade-loving perennials in the raised bed box that Dad built for me and helped me fill with soil. I have planted 2 varieties of Bleeding Hearts, 2 varieties of Coral Bells, and a variety of Lenten Roses and Primroses. The empty-ish side will house some varieties of mint, since it is near the kitchen door.

The dry-stacked rocks around it are all ones that I have collected around the property or dug out of the garden or yard. I need to search for more in the near future.

I was pleasantly surprised recently to note that a small section on Architecture and Interior Design was included in J's 1st grade Art curriculum. I don't recall ever discussing Architecture until I was in college at the small Liberal Arts school that I graduated from. The lessons involved "building" a model house and room.

J chose to model the "little house in the big woods" from the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories.

She also decided to model her own bedroom.

These are far from being professional, but I thought she did a great job. Unfortunately, brother F and brother D, at this point J will be neither an Architect nor an Engineer in the future. She "hate"s math and "can't do it". I fear that she will end up as her first career choice: a princess ("all they do is dance all day"!)

Another weekend is upon us, and we received another 100 trees in the mail today that need to be planted! Do you want to guess what we'll be doing? Tomorrow will be another gift!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

All In A Day's Work

There is a lot of gardening work around here this Spring. The most, I think, that there will ever be. I am beginning to feel desperate about getting things in the ground. I can only manage to carve out an hour or two a day to work on things lately, so it is slow going.

Yesterday, I spent over an hour pulling more roots out of the garden. Our neighbor pulled a bunch more to the surface when he plowed last week. I meant to get them out of the way before he came back to disc it, but I didn't quite achieve that goal. As I was out there grubbing, I thought quite a bit about Charles Ingalls.

We have been reading the "Little House" books to the girls since last winter. We are almost finished with number 4, "On the Banks of Plum Creek". Pa was amazing. Not only did he build homes, where there was NOTHING, he built homesteads. He plowed wheat fields, for goodness sake, with a hand held plow and those crazy oxen. We had our handyman to clear the trees and stumps with a bulldozer, and a tractor pulling a plow to dig up the soil. Still, the hour of pulling up roots and digging out rocks really wore me out! I'm just a wuss, I guess. (Even though I managed the quasi-pioneer life in our February storm, I'm just not cut out for it full time.)

I definitely gain a sense of accomplishment when I see the soft, brown dirt stretching down the slope, ready to embrace my seeds and young plants.

I also feel a bit victorious when I yank out a particularly long root. There is a sense of calm too. The soil smells fresh, and the sweet and spicy scent of Sassafras lingers from the remnants I've pulled. (Little Jim, in the "Sugar Creek Gang" book series, likens the taste of Sassafras to "melted lollipops". I would recommend trying one of the stick candies the next time you're at Cracker Barrel.)

Perhaps it is those things that kept Pa going. It must be what keeps me going, because my back protests it most definitely!

So this morning, the lawn is mowed, the garden looks inviting, and the trees are bent over with the 25 MPH wind blasting over Poplar Ridge. Time to hang some laundry out...if I can keep it on the clothes line!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Good Neighbors

In his poem, Mending Fences, Robert Frost's neighbor stated, "Good fences make good neighbors."

I agree with Frost, who responded..."Why do they make good neighbors? Before I built a wall I'd ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense. Something there is that doesn't love a wall..."

We have a bunch of good neighbors out here on Poplar Ridge. Country neighbors are different than City neighbors. In the Country, families can live several miles apart and still be called neighbors. It matters less out here whether you can walk to their house, but whether you can drive your ATV off road all the way there. Of course, we don't yet have an ATV (although JP has been looking for months), so our neighbors have to come to us.

Friday, some of our neighbors came on tractor and ATV, bearing frog eggs and beautiful fresh hen eggs from their farm. They came to plow our garden, since we were unable to get through all of the residual tree root with our small rototiller and tractor. The children played and the adults talked until dark. It felt like what community should be.

The garden still needs some work before we can plant...there are a bunch more roots loosened for me to pull out now, for one! We also need to deer-proof it in some way before we even bother to put tender young plants out there.

The frog eggs hatched overnight. Saturday morning, we had a bazillion teeny weeny tadpoles. They all disappeared over Saturday night, so it appears that we are not the best of frog parents...yikes!

We got some more of the much-needed rain today. The girls couldn't even wait until they were dressed this morning to go out and play.

It is morel season in early May. JP came home with several pounds worth from a caring patient, which we dredged in flour, fried in butter, and enjoyed for dinner on Thursday evening.

I went for a walk in the drizzle this weekend to search for mushrooms. I only found these 3 sad looking specimens. But knowing that they are out there is encouraging. I'll look again this week.

Dad celebrated his 68th birthday yesterday. I baked him a cherry pie, at his request. We went out to Olive Garden to celebrate, with the exception of JP, who was home in bed with a 101.4* fever. (He is feeling much better today, thank goodness.)

So, we start another busy, busy week tomorrow. It will be my last week of work for the school year, and L's last week of story time at the library. If we stumble through this week, it should be downhill through the end of school. Hope the rest of you had a good weekend...have a smooth transition to the work/school week.