Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taters

I dug my potatoes on Saturday, and was very pleased with the harvest this year - the best one yet!


It beats last year's harvest by a mile.  Actually, just this one spud beats last year's harvest!


I weighed them all, and got almost 48 pounds worth of really nice looking taters.

I'm pleased.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tire-d

I am SOOO thrilled that we just started a 4 day weekend, thanks to Teacher In-Service at the schools, and JP thinking ahead to take the days off work.  We all need a bit of a break - J & L, especially J, have had a lot of late nights lately.  Yesterday, J was at school from 7:30 AM to 9:30 PM due to various activities.

Yesterday I spent 7 hours standing in the gym at the middle school, shouting over a bunch of tweens about density, mass, volume, and "excited molecules."  I volunteered, with a bunch of other moms, to help out some folks from the local Science Center who brought an assembly and hands on experiments to the school.  It was fun, but it wore me out! 

Another thing that makes me tired is that even though the regular soccer season is over next week, our ladies are awesome enough to make it to the WPIAL playoffs - and I have no idea what that means, except that this 2 practice a day thing with the play and soccer is going to continue for some unknown period of time. 

I'm also tired of things that break, and I'm tired of spending time at the repair shop.  I don't think it's a good thing when the manager of Quick Lane knows me on a first name basis.

Both tires on JP's mower blew out 2 weeks ago, so I was in charge of obtaining new ones. 

Just a few days later, the low tire pressure light went on in my car, and I found this in a rear tire (new in February, and which of course couldn't be repaired):

 
Last week I took one of the trucks for inspection.  It didn't pass because they say it needs 4 new tires.  I think we've driven it less than 200 miles in the past year, and don't plan to increase use of it any time soon.  This is also the one that I just had the windshield replaced on it because it wouldn't pass due to a chip in it.  Ugh.

But, for the next few days, I plan to just put those things on the back burner and try to relax.  It looks like rain, which would be lovely as well.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Falling

Last weekend, it really began looking like Fall.  The leaves are coming down.  We've had an "Indian Summer" of sorts, with temperatures in the 80's...so really it's been warmer recently than all of August was!  Just yesterday, it dropped back into the 70's outside, and I've had the windows open to gather in all the fresh air!


 Not only leaves are falling from the trees, the nuts (black walnut, hickory & acorns) have been dropping as well.  The ones in the chicken yard are the size of lemons!  It's a wonder none of the hens have been conked on the head.

Actually, maybe they were - they were acting really goofy last week.  I washed the cover for my futon, and hung it on the highest clothes line, which comes very close to the chicken yard.  Apparently when I pulled it up there, it freaked them out - they squawked and ran and flew to the other side of the yard.  About a dozen of them must have flown out, because for the next couple of hours, we saw chickens happily grazing in our yard, and we had to flush several of them out of the woods.

I finished staining the entire tree house.  JP had to put me up in the bucket of the tractor to reach the highest parts.  That wasn't exactly fun since I'm quite afraid of heights!  It looks much better now, especially since I cleaned the inside really well too, and even scrubbed the decks, which were growing some mildew.


This week has been excessively busy.  J landed a part in the winter play, so she has had play practice AND soccer practice after school.  She also had 2 home games this week.  I estimate that I spent over 4 hours just driving to and from the HS to pick her up or take her to something.  I also spent 5 hours at soccer games, 2 hours in Library meetings, and about 8 hours cleaning.

Today the Sears repairmen were out again to look at my oven.  This was the 6th time, but they FINALLY found the problem - a short in something located in the bottom oven that actually controls the top one!  Of course they had to order another part, so they will be back in 2 weeks.  Sheesh.

After they left, I was able to sow grass seed out by the driveway where my dad cleared a bunch of brush, and also harvest my squash.  I only planted 5 plants, and this is what I got:

38 Butternut, and 12 Acorn Squashes!

This afternoon, I took a leisurely drive out in the country to the apple orchard that I like to use because they don't spray.  I bought 2 1/2 bushels of apples for my mother and I to make applesauce.  It was a lovely outing.

Now I am sitting at the computer, getting ready to pay the bills, and the only thing falling at the moment is me - falling asleep.  I am so grateful for a weekend in which there are no soccer games!

Enjoy your Fall, everyone!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mystery Poo

Every couple of days, I find a lone turd in front of my garage.

It's not the dogs or cats, or the random cattle that meander through here from time to time.

My best guess has been either a raccoon or an opossum.  According to my book, Mammal Tracks & Sign, by Mark Elbroch, opossum scat is "rarely encountered in the field," and consequently there are no accompanying pictures.  The photo of raccoon poo, however, looks similar to the mystery turd, and is within the size range listed.  The book warns, however, that "raccoon scats can carry the parasitic roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, which can be fatal in humans."

So it would appear that we have terrorist raccoons prowling in front of our garage on a regular basis.  Wonderful.

It makes as much sense as the chip that suddenly appeared in the pickup windshield this summer.  I have confirmed this afternoon that it will NOT pass inspection without repairs/replacement, so the windshield company will be getting more of our business it seems.

By the way,  L got up early yesterday, finished her homework before school, and was even keeled and fairly polite for most of the afternoon.  It was a Wednesday Miracle!

I am off to pick up the girls from school.  J has another game tonight and needs the extra time for homework.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Gahhhhh!

So, school activities are moving along at quite a breath-taking pace.

J is becoming Miss Joiner, and so far has joined:  the Debate Club, the Green Team (school recycling), and the Spanish Club, and is planning to try out for the winter play - auditions are Monday.  In the meantime, she continues with soccer practice for 8 hours/week, and is having more and more games - 3 this week alone!

L is having a hard time adjusting to Middle School homework, which I remember being an issue with J back in the day.  She is so overly particular about her work anyway, that it takes her longer than most.  She is also frustrated that she isn't able to play soccer, but I'm not sure how she would fit it in!

Tonight I am just overwhelmed by it all.  I have used about 2/3 of a tank of gas in the past 24 hours, just picking girls up from 2 different schools, taking L to voice lessons, J to meet the soccer bus for a game, and then driving to said game, and taking her to and from practice tonight.  L had a full on melt down tonight because she didn't get her homework done before bedtime (spent the first 2 hours or so this afternoon goofing off or refusing to get serious about it) and went to bed late, kicking and screaming.  She wants us to wake her early to finish it.

I see tomorrow going down the tubes already.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Final Countdown...

This weekend was the final countdown until back to school.  We spent it fairly quietly, as we were recovering from shouldering our way through the crowds at the Outlet Mall on Friday to finish up the school shopping.

J had her 2nd HS Soccer Game on Saturday - this one at home, so we all went to watch.  L actually served as ball girl.  Our team won handily.

 
This is the first year in a LOOOOONG time that I haven't been shuttling 2 girls to and from soccer practice and games this time of year, and the first time that we haven't had Soccer Sunday in 10 years!  Unfortunately, the County Soccer League didn't have enough girls for a team for L, and we are waiting on word as to whether she can practice with the Middle School Team and serve as Team Manager for a year before she is allowed to actually participate on the team.

We spent a couple of hours relocating the chicken run to the field of clover that I sowed in the Spring.  They have much more afternoon shade in this location as well.  The hens seem to be happy, and we are getting at least 20 small eggs daily!

Yesterday, L and I finished up a couple of projects that we meant to get to all summer, and the girls got their backpacks loaded up with all of their new school supplies.  I was super impressed that J did that without being asked, and also put away all of her new clothes, packed a lunch for today, and prepped her breakfast as well!  Maybe it's true that "With great power comes great responsibility."

L complained several times last night that she was not ready to go back to school, and that the summer was WAY too short.  Both girls commented that they didn't sleep well last night.  J is super excited for HS, L is pretty anxious about Middle School.  We'll see how they feel this afternoon!

 
All I can say is that it is amazingly quiet up the hill this morning.

Happy Back-to-School to all!

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Great American Eclipse 2017

We finished up our summer vacation this week, by taking a road trip down to SC.  No, we didn't go to the beach, although that would have been fun.  We went to see the solar eclipse in an area of totality, and that was awesome!

Since we left the house at 5:30 on Sunday morning, we were ready to turn in early that night.  We met up with JP's niece at our hotel, and she spent the night with us.

Around noon on Monday, we went to the local library, and sat in the air conditioning to read until around 2 PM.  Then we went outside to their good sized yard, where we found a spot near a tree so we could have a bit of shade (it's HOT in SC!)  We laid on a blanket and watched the earth's shadow slowly cover the sun.  It was amazing that we still had a decent amount of light, even though the sun was 95% or more covered.  The light was eerily flat, and the shadows were unusual.  The crickets began chirping as the darkness increased, and stopped again once the event was over.

 
JP took some really good photos...I'm just going to post them in sequential order.








After we got our fill of eclipse (although we are already planning for April, 2024), we headed north 3 hours to visit with JP's sister and family for a couple of days.  The girls got their cousin fix, and it was enjoyable to see their home and get our Carolina BBQ fix.

On the way home, we drove through Mt. Airy, and decided to stop at the Andy Griffith Museum.


 
 


We had a nice vacation, but it's good to be home.

Today we braved the crowds at the Outlets, and finished our back-to-school shopping.  J has a home soccer game tomorrow, and school starts for reals on Monday.

Whew...welcome to the real world!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More Summer

L & I have had lots of activities together this summer.  It has been nice to spend one-on-one time with her...something we've never really had the chance to do before!  We've done simple things like take a picnic lunch to a local park and play on the playground...

 
...or climb the trees.

 
We went mini golfing, but didn't get photo documentation.

Last week we went to a nearby village and museum with re-enactors from the late 1800's.  We had the chance to practice our atlatl throwing.


And of course, we've spend lots and lots of time in the car, driving J to and from work at the library.

L also FINALLY had her voice recital.  She did a great job, but looked extremely nervous.  She does not want me to post the video here...sorry.

 
All three of us spent a few hours at the county fair last week.  One of our favorite things, the petting zoo, was conspicuously absent this year.  We did manage to buy expensive food on a stick, and ride a few rides.

 
Today was J's last day of work, although she is returning tomorrow to volunteer for the final Summer Reading Club.  She has had extremely long days for the past 2 days...working 8 hours, and then going directly to 3 hours of soccer practice. She is getting home at 9:30 PM, eating dinner, showering, and going to bed.  This morning, she also had an appointment before work, so it was even longer.  Tomorrow she has a voice lesson after library, and then concussion testing prior to practice - another extremely long day.  Thursday she will finally have the chance to chill out during the day (I think!)  But, she has her first soccer game on Saturday!

The pullets began laying a couple of weeks ago, and now we are getting many beautiful brown and very small eggs.  Today I found 16!  I think that the pullets themselves are quite attractive.  We only have 6 old, balding hens any longer.

 
Summer is winding down, and I always start to feel a bit melancholy this time of year.  I will really miss the girls when they go back to school!  I'm sure that I will still have plenty of things to keep me busy, but I am happy to say that I managed to accomplish quite a few things that have been lingering on my To-Do list for years.

Here's to the final 2 weeks of summer.  Live it to the fullest!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Rain Drops Keep Fallin'

It has rained or been unseasonably cool for most of last week.  It kept us out of the pool, and made it difficult to accomplish outside projects.  I did manage to paint these doors, partly because they are protected under the roof:


They were meant to be green originally, but at the last minute, our builder informed us that the colored doors have to be ordered 6 weeks in advance, and at the time, we needed doors ASAP.  So...9 years in, they are finally green!

JP and I took our yearly Anniversary trip to the city - celebrating 26 years this year!

They had a Pickle festival on the bridge just outside our Hotel, with vendors and live music, so we checked it out.


 
We had a fantastic steak dinner, with complimentary dessert.


In the morning, we woke early, and wandered about the Strip District, and made purchases at the Cheese Store and the Oriental Store.

Saturday was Rain Day in our town, so the girls and I ventured in to check out the festivities and to share a funnel cake.  After about 1 1/2 inches of rain that day, the skies were blue and lovely when we strolled through town.

I stopped to let the girls play on the statue for Union Soldiers near the University.  They used to play on this with their babysitters while I was working in the University Student Health...back in the day.

 
On Sunday, we got the weekly mowing done, and then JP grilled BBQ ribs for dinner while the girls played in the pool.

It was a busy, but fabulous weekend!

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Chosen One

Last month, I noticed an article in a local publication.  It stated that a local business was "sponsoring the Great Garden Contest for the best looking flower and vegetable garden in or around" our county.

I sent in this picture of my garden.



The entries were to be judged at one of the local fairs, and since the fair ended last Saturday, I decided that I must not have been a winner.  Imagine my surprise when I received an email from the sponsoring business yesterday, with news that I did indeed win!

I went down this morning to collect my prize.


Woo-hoo!  I have the best looking garden in or around our county by People's Choice!

Thank you very much!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Small Wonders

Sorry for the paucity of posts lately.  I have been busy doing a hundred jobs around the "farm", as well as working a lot more than I have for a while.  L and I have taken a couple of little trips, and done some projects as well.  I also have to take J to work every morning, and then pick her up in the evening.

I am so pleased that J is thoroughly enjoying her job at the Library.  She tells us little stories every day about people she meets, or other things that happen.  I think she will be getting paid today...first paycheck ever!

I have been working on:

-Cleaning out both sides of the chicken house
-Switching the laying hens and the pullets to opposite sides
-More canning
-Weeding and clearing in the garden (we have tomatoes, cucumbers & zucchini now!)
-Pruning, weeding and composting around my ornamental trees & shrubs
-Weeding and dead-heading in my flower garden

There have been some tiny, beautiful nuggets that have made the past couple of weeks seem less like drudgery and more like a miracle.

My flower garden has been a profusion of color.

Russian Sage, Black-Eyed Susan, Mums, Gladiolus,
Purple Cone Flower, Queen Anne's Lace, Butterfly
 Bush & Lemon Verbena

I am not the only one who has been enjoying them either...

L and I decided to add a bit more color to the propane tank by adding Lady Bugs.  She did most of them by herself.




L and I loaded up the bikes and drove north to our favorite park this week.  We rode the trails, played on the zip line, ate a picnic lunch, and waded in the creek.



The small wonder here is my lovely girl...

...she was inside of this huge hollow tree.  Last year
it was still alive, but sadly it no longer is.
One of my favorite miracles is my balloon flower.  I love this plant!  It always makes me smile, and adds some lovely cool hues to my flower garden.


This weekend, the girls and I are taking a day trip to visit my 101 year old Grandma, who is a small wonder herself.  J named her "Tiny Grandmom" when she was just a tiny tike herself.  I am not looking forward to 6 hours of driving, but it will be worth it to see her again.

Finally, let me add this link.  These are movie reviews done in Haiku style.  I love it!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Diagnostics

J came home around 10:15 last night, after spending a week with her friend at Myrtle Beach.  This was the longest time that she has been away from home (and us), but we were able to talk with her almost every day.  While she was away doing this...

Surprising her friend at the airport in Myrtle Beach!
...a lot of things happened here at home, including pool play with uncle B & cousin H, and some sparkler action by L on Independence Day!

 
 
Remember the propane water heater issues back in January?  Well, the gas company never made it out here to replace the regulator.  We've been using the back-up electric water heater since then, and recently it too started to have issues.  We had barely enough hot water to take one shower at a time.  We called the plumbers, and they weren't able to come out for about 3 weeks - right before our weekend of out-of-town guests.  They said that the electric water heater was "dead", and replaced it.  We have had plenty of hot water since then, thank goodness.  They also ordered a new propane water heater, and will be able to replace it next week.

I also called Sears back in late May because the washer stopped working AND we had been having trouble with the ovens.  The washer was fixed without new parts, but there were more problems with the ovens.  One of the hinges was broken, and supposedly the part was no longer available (this is a 2009 purchase!!)  The top oven was also getting way too hot, so I assumed it was a thermostat issue.  We did not approve repairs right away, because we wanted to see if we could find the part for the hinge first.  JP was able to locate what is apparently the last 2 hinges in North America on eBay in Canada!  Once they arrived, I called to have the repairs made.  It took a long time for them to return because I refused to have them come back to re-diagnose and order parts, but after a LOOONG time on the phone, was able to get them to order parts over the phone.  Last week the new parts were installed, but the oven is still overheating.  They are coming back next week to look at it again.

We also lost that hen after a day of droopy comb.  I've been trying to keep a closer eye on the hens since then, to be sure that this wasn't something contagious.  Everything I found on the internet contributed droopy comb to either dehydration or anemia (from intestinal worms or mites.)  I couldn't find evidence of either on that first hen.  This AM, I found another hen with a slightly droopy comb, who appeared pretty lethargic.  After much MORE internet research today, I was still coming up with the same things, and once again, I couldn't find evidence of either in the hen.  I actually asked my Dad to euthanize her, because I didn't want to spread anything else to the rest of the flock.  Luckily, while I was away briefly (taking J to her first day at her new job), he was unable to find her.  When I found her, and picked her up, I accidentally squeezed her chest a bit, and she spit up some liquid.  That's when I realized that she had a very swollen crop - like the broiler chicks earlier.  I researched on YouTube how to drain the crop, and did it.

 
She is now in her own cage, with cider vinegar in her water, and yogurt & water melon to eat.  She drank and drank when I put her in there, so here's hoping that the diagnosis (and treatment) is correct!

In the meantime, I took L & a friend to the Natural History Museum on Friday.  We all had fun.

 
This weekend, JP, L & I worked to make an area to get into the pool without dragging grass in.  We put down landscaping fabric, and pounded in edging, and then added pavers and pea gravel.  It works great!


So...it's almost time to pick J up after her first day of work, so we'll be able to see how that went, and learn more about her week at the beach.