Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Rainy May

 Dear Friends,

How has your May been so far? Ours has been up and down the thermostat, with many rainy days that have turned our peonies and irises into mush! The other flowers are starting to pick up, though, which brings a bit of sunshine to our lives.

Tickseed Coreopsis


The lemon balm is doing nicely, as well! We've been using lots of it in blender drinks.

The peas we planted back in February are starting to come on, in spite of the naughty sparrows that snip off little bits and pieces here and there!

The wild plants in the yard are giving us lots of yummy snacks, too, like these "pickles" on the wood sorrel.

Today our backyard cardinals brought their baby with them to have a sunflower seed snack; we've never seen one so close before! Life is full of beautiful blessings, in spite of the rain that falls in our lives.



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Merry May to You


Dear Friends,

Our May started off wet, cold, and windy, after several more days of clouds and rain. Our Polish crested hen Phyllis had a head full of mud, so we gave her a trim.

 Much better!

 When it's cold and dark, we feel as motivated to work as our cat Ginger, but we push ourselves along, lest we get buried in housework!

Today was a little more sunny and dry, so we had our annual May Day festivities. This year it was Rebecca's turn to be the Queen of the May, which she seemed to enjoy immensely!

I hope that you are enjoying the beginning of your May, as well. We are praying for our friends that are in areas or flooding or other disasters. May the Lord bless and keep you!



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Birthday Blessings

Dear Friends,

Wow, it's been almost a month since I last posted! Spring has truly sprung since then, bringing both Frankie's tenth and my forty-fourth birthdays.

We have been getting ready to move to the country, downsizing and de-junking, and realizing just how much we've accumulated in the past six years in this home!  We still have to find a suitable job for Mr. Graham, before we can finalize offering on the house of our choice. I am ready to be done with it all! :) 

Thank the Lord that He has our family in His very capable hands, and knows what is best for us. May this be a very blessed year for us all!



Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring!

 Dear Friends,

Spring is in the air! The hens are laying again, proving how interesting they can be. The hen in the top photo is Madeleine, who refuses to lay her egg in a nest box, but instead comes around to the front door, waiting until we notice. Evangeline usually finds her and sticks her in a small cardboard box with a gold ball in it, on top of the kitchen table. Madeleine happily sits there for up to two hours, until her egg is laid, and then she lets us know that she wants back out. Like I said, INTERESTING!

We've been enjoying the wild greens in the yard, along with goodies from the grocery store. This salad has dandelion, wild carrot, and speedwell greens, in addition to arugula and lettuce. Nothing brings a feeling of energy into the body like lots of fresh greens. They have a vitality to them, like nothing else, and are the perfect antidote to winter's heavy meals and lack of fresh air.

We've been studying birds lately, and thought it would be fun to have everyone make a different type of bird's nest in the backyard, to gain sympathy for how difficult it must be. It was quite an experiment, and everyone had a lot of fun.

Here we see the beginnings of the nest of a kiwi bird~

The completed nest.

~A robin's nest will be made on this platform,

The completed robin's nest.

And here a pair of eagles decided to use the picnic table as an eyrie.

This spring certainly has had its ups and downs as far as the temperature goes! It reminds us of this old Disney cartoon (from back when Disney was clean family enertainment)~



Saturday, March 11, 2017

I Wander'd Lonely As a Cloud

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
   That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden daffodils;"

Okay, so it's not quite a host, but our little daffodil patch has begun blooming, bringing a little sunshine to our hearts!

The crocuses are also making a show, although you about have to get down on your hands and knees to see them. :)

The lone trillium (the chickens killed its friends) is about to bloom as well, which means that morel mushrooms will be popping up in the woods.

Ground ivy is blooming, and its flowers have a sweet, dainty fragrance,

And the primrose on the dining table has inspired a beautiful nature journal entry by an older daughter~

It is snowing right now in our neck of the woods, and we are praying that the cold weather will spare our flowers, peas, and greens coming up in the garden!



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Backyard Homestead Project

Dear Friends,

We decided to grow some plant starts to sell later this spring, for a little extra spending cash. There was only one problem: Where to keep the seedlings? Someplace where chickens and squirrels wouldn't be able to get in and ruin everything?

Our answer came when we remembered the chicken coop stand that was started two years ago and never finished. We put a couple pieces of plywood on top for a floor, then attached pvc pipes from a failed cold frame project to the stand, et voila! a mini-hoop house!

We started our seeds by placing them in wet paper towels in zip-top bags on a plate over the crockpot, which was filled with water and left on low. Within one day the basil and zinnia seeds sprouted, so we had to rush out and get some potting soil and containers for them. Thankfully, Costco has large plastic cups that were easy to drill holes into and are the size of regular starter plant pots at the nurseries, as well as organic potting soil in large bags.

Here's where we put the sprouted seeds, while waiting for the hoop house to be built (we had to get creative and find the highest, safest place!)~

Once the hoop house had its plastic covering in place, we put the seedlings out for their first day. It's going to be cold for the next few days, so they'll have to be inside, but the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s and 70s after that, so back outside they'll go!

Frankie said he wanted to sleep in it tonight, but the thunder storm we had in the evening changed his mind!

p.s. Big red plastic cups also make good towers!



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Late Winter/ Early Spring Wild Edibles

Dear Friends,

Our weather here in Missouri has been very mild and dry lately; we have even seen mosquitoes about, and honeybees trying to get to the honey in our house!

The wild greens are starting to pop up all over the yard; they especially appreciate the warm environment of this cold frame, planted in arugula.

The chickweed has been lying low all winter, and the chickens pointed out this fresh growth to me the other day.

Wild garlic and birdseye speedwell (Veronica persica) are up and at 'em (the speedwell is the lower green plant, with tiny blue flowers). Garlic is of course familiar, but the tiny speedwell is a wonderful little herb full of vitamins and worth chopping and adding to salads or smoothies.

Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpurea) grows profusely in gardens and fields as well, although it doesn't have its pretty little blooms yet. It has a very earthy flavor that tastes good in savory dishes. It is also traditionally used for easing excessive menstrual flow and menstrual cramps. A good plant to befriend if you're a female!

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Ground Ivy tries diligently to take over my front flower bed every year, giving me lots of plant matter to use as I weed it out! It is great dried and used in teas, or fresh in smoothies. It is said to chelate heavy metals from the body, which is a plus in this toxic day and age!

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I hope you enjoyed this little weed tour of our yard this time of year, and I hope that I've encouraged you to try putting wild greens into your diet this year. Just make very sure you have a correct ID! If you see something that you're not sure about, take a picture of it and email it to me, and I'll see if I can help figure it out for you.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Bluebird Day

 Dear Friends,

Today I heard a lovely trilling in the trees in the neighborhood. Since I didn't have my glasses on, I enlisted my "eyes" (children) to help see what was making the sound. Before long, we discovered the source of the mysterious song: Eastern Bluebirds!

We were able to zoom in on them and get a few nice photos before they moved on. There were two males and two females, presumably pairs. These are the best of all we took~

In Idaho, where we're from, bluebirds can be hard to get a look at, usually up in the hills. We'll have to put up a nesting box or two!

In other news, Frankie helped me make a homemade seasoning salt to use at the table. We included sea salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, herbs de Provence, ground sesame and sunflower seeds, and powdered shiso from last year's garden. Easy and thrifty!

We have been growing wheatgrass to juice and share with our cat. My children love to chew on it like gum, as well! Wheatgrass has been much more reliable for me that microgreens, which seem to suffer from lack of natural sunlight in the house.

What thrifty things have you been up to?