Wednesday, June 30, 2010


On my list of unbelievable things happening lately:

1) Delivery men who show up...(wait for it)...EARLY! It's true! The Sears crew that delivered our new refrigerator arrived 21 minutes BEFORE their scheduled 2 hour window, AND were nice enough to move the old fridge down to Mom and Dad's basement.

2) Tomato plants in the yard. This afternoon, while finally removing the dirt that I dug out of trenches several weeks ago, I noticed a half dozen little tomato plants growing along the grey water drainage. Apparently these little guys went down the drain, travelled all the way down and out, and sprouted where they landed. I'll leave them be and see what happens!

3) Bears? I don't know, but I guess it's possible. I went down by our spring last weekend to pick black raspberries, and found the bushes trampled and picked clean. I also noticed a large pile of dark scat on the road, which appears very similar to the photo of Black Bear scat in our "Mammal Tracks and Signs" book.

4) 46 degrees at the end of June? Oh yes, and it's been nice, too. We had the windows open all day yesterday since it only got up to 73...gave the air conditioner a break!

5) My BP (emotional) boycott. This is unbelievable because I keep breaking my own initiated (so called) boycott. The BP station is the closest one to our house, and is located right before where we get on the interstate for our weekly jaunts South. I get a few gallons and tell myself "never again...BP is an irresponsible company, I can NOT support them!", and then I end up there again a week later when I need to go somewhere and the little gas light is glowing. I have absolutely no back bone.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Leaves of Three, Leave Them Be!

It appears that J did not only collect good memories last week at Pioneer Camp, she also got a pretty bad case of poison ivy (another summer time special). She has been waking at 7 AM (quite early for her) every morning complaining of her hands hurting. Her little fingers have been swollen, red and bumpy. After a cocktail of Advil, Claritin, and an ice pack, things seemed to calm down again until the next morning. I finally took her to the Allergist this afternoon, who feels that it is an atypical case of poison ivy (rhus) dermatitis. Now we get to add Benadryl and a topical steroid ointment to the medical cocktail. Hopefully this will settle things down so the poor girl can get a full night sleep again.

On the home front, we are slowly getting the trash pile cleaned up that the barn building crew left behind. J and L earned $1.84 (a penny per nail) for picking up nails around the barn. There are several other projects in the works and I will post pictures later. We are slowly, but surely whipping this place into shape.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In the Good Old Summer Time's a hot one today!

We decided to ditch the remaining outside work (we did plenty yesterday) and go shopping!

We bought a new sandbox for the girls (since we left the old one at the last house), and supplies to hang up our hammocks. It is Summer time after all, time to laze around in the shade, right?

J spent all of last week at Pioneer Day Camp at a park not far from here. She and her friends thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and were already making plans to attend next year!

Here is a short clip of the girls and some friends enjoying the Kid Wash recently...another Summer time activity.

Farm Use

JP was almost giddy as the big truck from Knight's drove up the lane yesterday, bearing his new tractor.

The girls were pretty pleased with it themselves, and begged rides.

It's very red and clean and shiny...and BIG!

We have already used it to bring an old bale of hay down from the neighbor's upper field to mulch the garden with.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Barn Raising - Day 4

Today is the one year anniversary of living in the house on Poplar Ridge. How fitting that the barn was completed around lunch time yesterday. Now it appears that we have a compound up here on the hill!

Unfortunately, the crew left the metal siding lying in the mud, so it's really dirty, we'll have to hose it off eventually.

The new tractor is due tomorrow to live in the barn.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Barn Raising - Day 3

It was a busy day today with Pioneer Day Camp and Birthday Parties. I had just enough light to shoot a couple of pictures tonight of what was accomplished on the barn today.

Does it look HUGE, or is it just me?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Barn Raising - Day 2

I'm pretty sure the 175 Mennonites, buoyed by 3 gallons of cornstarch pudding would be finished with the barn by now. Our crew of 6 diminished to 2 for the afternoon, then 3 when one returned from driving one the 2 hours home to Ohio due to a death in the family, and then drove the 2 hours back.

As it was, they managed to raise all of the roof trusses (by hand) by lunch time,

and had the metal roof on by evening. (Even with a break due to thunder and lightening storms, and calling it a day early due to another one.)

Eye Candy

Any ideas what I can make with this cheerful pasta I found at the Harry and David outlet the other day?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Barn Raising

This is scanned from my Mennonite Community Cookbook, by Mary Emma Showalter, and first published in 1950. I thought I should be ready for our barn construction crew today, but there are only 6 of them instead of 175, and I just don't have 6 pounds of stewed prunes on hand or the time to bake 115 lemon pies!

We are finally seeing progress on our barn! The area was excavated and prepped back in April. Now we are actually working with a different company than we started out with. After dragging their feet since January, Company 1 told us in May that they couldn't start building until August. Company 2 got us quotes and drawings within hours (not weeks or months) of JP contacting them and said they would start building in June. So here they are.

And this is what they've been doing:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just Breathe

I don't know what's wrong with me lately. I can't concentrate on anything, and I consequently have several projects in various states of done-ness. I can't drive either...perhaps that is a result of the concentration issue as well...I have had several near misses in the past few weeks, and have run a couple of red lights without realizing it.

I feel pretty good these days. I enjoy working outside, and I've had lots of time to do that. I'm off work for the summer, and J is finished with cyber school for the year. We've been doing some fun stuff lately. Life is good, no stresses...right?

On the way home from a picnic this week, I heard the song "Breathe", by Ryan Star:

Breathe, just breathe
Take the world off your shoulders
And put it on me
Breathe, just breathe
Let the life that you live
Be all that you need

I took a deep breath and felt some of the tension slip away from my shoulders.

I breathed deeply of the fresh air while I waded in the cool waters of Mingo Creek with the girls the following day.

Yesterday, I took a deep breath and tackled the remainder of the 100 foot thistle patch.

Is my concentration any better? Time will tell. Am I enjoying my life more? I think so.

Just breathe...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So Long Old Red

Our Super-Duper Handy Man came this morning, strapped Old Red on his trailer, and took it away. The thing died over the weekend...won't start. So it appears that JP and my Dad are getting their wishes of having a BIGGER tractor on Poplar Ridge granted. Perhaps it will even be here in time to initiate the new barn (tentative start date 6/23/10).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gardening Dreams is the (much anticipated) post about my perennial bed. Keep in mind: "Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors." - Mary Cantwell, memoirist

Here are the plans that I drew up following my early Spring Landscaping Class.

This is a picture of the front of the house, and the bank (on the right) which I don't want to mow.

I started turning over the sod with a shovel, but after about 3 hours of work over about 3 weeks, I only got about 3 square feet done. A couple of weeks ago, JP rototilled it in about an hour. He also moved lots of top soil from the pile that was excavated from our barn site. I pushed and raked the soil around, and it looked like this before I put the perennials in (although there are 2 bushes in already).

The first thing I did was to terrace in 7 big, flat rocks (that I dug out of the garden or yard) to use as stepping stones down the bank. Then I added lots and lots of plants. It doesn't look like much in the photo, but there are at least 30 plants in there, which will eventually grow and spread. I also plan to add some Daffodil and Snow Drop bulbs in the Fall. I did stick pretty much to the original plans, but I also added a Cotoneaster, several Columbines, half a dozen Yarrow, a few Chrysanthemums, some Irises, a Jack-in-the-Pulpit (that I dug out of the woods), and a Lupine. I still have some Thyme to plant around the stepping stones and a couple of Geraniums (free at Simmons for picking 3 full baskets of strawberries) to stick in.

My hope is to eventually have it so full of flowers, that the soil won't erode, and I won't need to use wood mulch. While everything is still so tiny, however, I think I will need the mulch to keep everything from washing away. Perhaps I'll have to fill it up with annuals this year!

We are also planning to put 2 feet of landscaping fabric covered with river rock around the foundation of the house the whole way around. I still want to find a little weeping cherry to put between the girls' windows in front (we fell in love with this one at our last house).

It's a good start, I think, and I'm looking forward to seeing color there every year.


I put all of my grocery store bags to use. Now they blow in the wind to scare off critters.
We could also use them as Tibetan prayer flags.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just Add Water

I spent the afternoon yesterday resurrecting the "Kid Wash". I got the pattern from Family Fun magazine several years ago, and the first Kid Wash was used until it literally fell apart. (You can find the directions here.) This time I glued sections of it together to make it stronger, and I added pinwheels which spin in the water.

It's pretty cool to take 7 PVC pipes cut into pieces and a pile of fittings

And turn them into this. Total price tag: about $20.

The girls were thrilled.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things To Do

It seems that I always have a long "To Do" list, filled with things that aren't very fun to do. All too often, that takes precedence over simply living life and enjoying childhood with my kids.

Take a look at this "To Do" list...maybe it will convince you to simplify life!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hi Ho Cherry-O!

Last week was a busy one! On top of our regularly scheduled craziness, we went cherry picking at a friend's house on Wednesday. It was a lot of fun, and J especially, was a big help. These are what we picked. The bucket on the bottom right is sour pie cherries.

Mom helped me can them. We ended up with 14 quarts of sweet cherries, and 4 pints of sour ones!

Friday, we went out to our favorite U-Pick Farm, Simmons, and picked strawberries with some friends. I came home with 27 pounds of sweet and juicy berries! (You can see my jars of cherries to the right!)

These got made into 5 recipes of freezer jam, and 10 pints of frozen berries, along with 3 shortcakes (so far).

We got over 2 inches of rain this weekend, which limited pretty severely the work that I could get done outside. (It also caused the power to be out most of the day yesterday again.) The overflow from our rain water cistern ended up washing out part of the bottom of the garden. To correct the problem, this morning I dug a ditch from the overflow to a drainage ditch, which is also supposed to carry the grey water down the hill to the woods. The grey water drainage was just running out all over the place and making the whole hillside mushy, so I dug a ditch from that pipe down to the drainage ditch as well. I still have some piles of dirt to move somewhere...

Since J is officially done with her curriculum for the year (but not the school year), I had the blissful opportunity to work outside all morning in the peace. The sun was out, but the air was cool, so I got the garden weeded after all the ditch digging. It made me quite relaxed, which seems counterintuitive, but being outside, and slowly working towards a goal of beautification, is very therapeutic for me!

Yesterday afternoon, after digging and hauling more rocks, I finished the dry stacked shade bed by the house. I'm quite happy with it, though I might add a few rocks here and there...I dug up a bunch more today!

I'll leave you with these pictures of the girls revelling in their own early summer activity: the pursuit of butterflies!