Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

I didn't go to a parade or ceremony today, either. I wasn't relaxing with my family; I worked.

But I want to thank those near and dear to me for the sacrifice and the commitment they have made in defense of this country. Since my first boy to join up joined the National Guard, I'll start there.



The Guard "began" in 1636, when English colonists and Native Americans began to disagree. When war between them broke out, the King of England ordered the formation of colonial militias. You were taught about these militias when you learned about the American Revolution. The Minutemen, ready to defend their lands at a minute's notice, were those same militias. Those militias fought for the establishment of this country and one foreigner who fought with them, the Marquis de Lafayette, indirectly named the National Guard. (I just learned this tonight!) He returned to France, and led the militia of Paris during the French Revolution, naming them the Garde National. When he visited the United States near the end of his life, a New York militia company renamed themselves the National Guard, in his honor. By 1916, all but one state had adopted the name National Guard for its militia units. (This information is from www.ng.mil, at the About the Guard tab)

The official date of the establishment of the National Guard, its birthday, is Dec. 13, 1636.

Matthew couldn't bring himself to join the National Guard, so he enlisted in the regular Army. The Army began in 1747 as "His Majesty’s first Independent Company of American Rangers." They served England, but were Americans. The Army fought through the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, and was officially established as the Continental Army on June 14, 1775.



The irony is that he will leave the Army this summer. He has already enlisted in...the National Guard.

Ethan joined the Guard in the winter of 2009. He is gone this weekend, as I've mentioned, learning to be a better medic.

I suppose I should thank my dad, too. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in the 1950s. I think they fought dinosaurs. Uphill. In the snow. Both ways. The Marine Corps thinks of themselves as the oldest American armed force. The Corps was officially formed on November 10, 1775. Check those dates. I think some of the Marines got hit in the head by one of those dinosaurs!

I should play the Marine Corps hymn, but, Papa, I like this much better...and it makes for a better ending to this blog!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday. Memorial Day Weekend.

Two of our soldier sons are out of town this weekend. Jay and Kris have gone to see her parents, and Matthew and Keri are camping near Ft. Sill in Oklahoma. Ethan has been at his annual training this past two weeks. Someone actually planned that AT would occur such that Memorial Day would fall right during those three weeks. So he had a four-day and came home for the weekend.

Our congregation is very good about recognizing those who serve in the military, most likely because our Associate Pastor, Ray Ayers, is himself a soldier, serving as a chaplain in the Reserves. Today those who have served or are currently serving were asked to wear their uniforms to church. They were recognized before the services, and during a special coffee hour. At the coffee hour, Pastor Ayers grouped those in attendance (by no means all of those serving!) for a picture.



Ethan is right there, up in front; Pastor Ayers is in the back to the left. A couple of the other men are friends of ours. I am ashamed to say that, although we attend the same church and often exchange hellos, I don't the names of some of the rest. But I am honored to know them all.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

The end of the week has been really busy. Justice graduated from Kindergarten, and I found me some off-the-farm work. I plan a little blogging for later today, but for now, here's the scoop.

Peppers are in. Most of the flowers are in. I picked up a clematis today for the lamppost in front; now I just need a Tumnus statue. If anyone has seen one anywhere, please let me know. Sheep will be getting a new home, soon, and John will be installing posts for that this weekend. Soon they'll be grazing on the front lawn. I feel so British!!

I want to find a spot for a watermelon and a cantaloupe; I'll be checking my companion planting guide later on. And I picked up some Bush Table Ace acorn squash plants today. Loooove that acorn squash! Bake it, mash it, add a little butter and maple syrup...See; fall in the garden can be fun, too!

Have a great Saturday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And So It Begins

With the heat and humidity of summer comes the invasion of the insects. We have already had some of the flying ants that we see this time of year. Behind them will come the larger, carpenter-types. I've used boiling water on a few anthills around the yard; most of those were the small, red type. June bugs, who don't read calendars, have been bumping into the screens at night when the lights are on. We've had our first mosquito bites. Flies come next. This is the first one I swatted in the house; it won't be the last.



After the flies, come earwigs, picnic bugs, and fleas and ticks. Thankfully, we don't see those last two very often. Dragonflies are followed by squash bugs, box elder bugs and ladybugs. Lots of other varieties pop on and off the radar, but those are the biggies. After them, is it any wonder that we are actually glad for the fall frost?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another New Friend

Yesterday was hot and humid, but that didn't stop Lindsay and Mary from wanting to ride! Lindsay is a friend of Mary's from 4H. She'll be using Hope this summer to participate in the 4H horse show at our Fair in August. She's started coming over to work with Hope; she and Mary school "the girls" and get some rides in.

Yesterday they didn't feel like riding. It was really hot. But they did longe the horses and spend some time brushing and loving on them. While we were out watching them we heard a sound. Mary asked what it was; I replied that I thought it was a catbird. Then we realized it sounded really young. We thought maybe it was a kitten.

Sure enough, we searched through the honeysuckle and pine by the highway and found this little guy.



He's living in our utility room right now, which is safest, considering all the interest he has generated from the long-term residents. Some of them are not amused.



But he won't be living here long. He'll probably be moving in early June to live with the Seanster, who fell in love instantly. (His mom did so sooner.) The kitten's name? Well, I'm still hoping someone will someday let me name a kitten Gigantor, the Wonder Cat. But this is not that day. We've been bouncing around Elvis, Fred, Figaro, Tux, and a few others. Time will tell.

Monday, May 24, 2010

-whew-



Can you handle some more garden pictures? I showed a little of the beginning of our garden, when we were tilling, organizing and planting earlier this spring. Well, here are some of the results.

This picture below is one of my favorites. It is part of my little planting of beets. I just love the little puppies; that bright green and deep red... My mom finds it ironic. I spit my first taste of beets across the kitchen some 50 years ago, staining the floor until a few years later, when they replaced it. But I like them now!



This little bed holds lettuce, spinach, onions, and cauliflower. That lettuce in the front left of the picture is no longer there; it was delicious! It's buddy behind it is slated for tonight's table.




Those beets above are in the middle of this bed. This was the bed I planted first; I planted garlic in it last October. It overwintered really well and is beginning to brown up. I predict fresh garlic before the 4th of July! There are also more onions in there, and young broccoli.




This picture was taken just as I finished planting my parsley and basil down the center. Since then, I've planted 5 types of tomatoes in there. Because our past two summers have been wet and cool, we haven't had our own tomatoes for three years! I tried two varieties, Stupice and Siberian, which are supposed to like cool, damp weather. Since this summer is shaping up to be more "normal" for NE IL, I also planted some Supersteak, Fresh Salsa, and Juliet, which is a grape tomato. The hoops, by the way, I used for holding floating row covers over these beds, to keep them warm during late April and early May. I won't need them anymore; the heat and humidity moved in this weekend, so that "more normal" summer weather I mentioned is here at last. More telling, the peonies are beginning to bloom. As my good friend, Elephant's Child, tells me, once that happens, there won't be any more cold nights until fall.



More broccoli, a few green beans, and the Kennebec potatoes. Just past this bed, you can see a bed with a row of Red Pontiac potatoes next to a bare row. That row is now in it's third planting of Yukon Gold potatoes. One of our hens just loves that specific variety. After she dug them the second time, I had Mary clip her wings severely, and planted for the third time. I told the potatoes that, if they let her eat them again, they were done, and I'd plant cucumbers there. I'm sure they'll listen! That far bed also has two kinds of peas planted; Sugar Snap and a snow pea whose name I can't remember right now.




My next huge garden chore is rejuvenating this asparagus bed. The middle of the bed has died out, leaving us just enough asparagus to flavor something, but not enough to have a real meal! I have some new roots, and they'll get in there this week. John is also moving compost into two new beds, where I'll plant peppers.



The garden work never ends, but have you ever seen a gardener who wasn't in decent shape? At least we're getting something additional from our workouts!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flowers

So I mentioned pictures of my plantings. Caveat; they don't look like much yet. But they will be lovely ladies at some point.

About three years ago, we built a deck at the back of our house. The next year, Jay and Ethan were coerced (by me) into building a planting bed that ran around the deck and up the south side of the house. I planted shrubs in there. I had perennial beds there for about 7 years, but I was tired of feeling guilty for not maintaining them. Notice I didn't say that I was tired of maintaining them! But I felt a few pretty shrubs would be easier than the dozens of plants I had to deal with before.

But I like the colors and scents of flowers. So I have gradually added some flowering plants into the shrubbery beds.



This is a night-blooming jasmine. I love the star-shaped flowers, and the heady fragrance that wafts into my windows or hangs over the deck on summer evenings. I have managed to keep it alive inside for two winters. Yay, me!



Next to Princess Jasmine, I have Miss Kim. This little lilac adds to the fragrance in the late spring. She's in bloom right now, and it smells heavenly out there on those few mornings I've been able to sit on the deck to drink my coffee.



I'm calling this one Maria. She has two sisters, all lovely edelweiss. Edelweiss has no fragrance that I can smell, but Mary has found her way into a production of The Sound of Music. When we saw these at the garden center the other day, well, they had to come home with us! (And, no, I don't know what those stakes are there for!)



If I turn around from where I took those pictures, I can see this bed. I planted it about 8 years ago, because I realized I could see the chicken house behind it from the kitchen window. I like my chickens, but I wanted something really pretty to look at, too. This bed has had many plantings and some changes along the way. I don't know how this year's incarnation will turn out. That sapling to the left is a peach that found it's way there because last spring, when it was delivered, the bed was the only place that wasn't soggy with water. I had to get it in the ground somewhere, and that bed made sense. This year I waited just a bit too long to try to move it;' it had bloomed, and is now growing 7 little peaches. I'll have to move it sometime, but first I'll have to research how.



One of my favorite flowers, both in appearance and fragrance, is the carnation. I have planted red, pink and white ones. I did this last year, too, but they didn't return this year. Well, the red ones did, but not the white. Hopefully, all will be back next year!



This little southern girl won't be back next year, unless I lift her and bring her inside. Her kind just doesn't like our cold winters. But we'll enjoy her straw "hat" flowers for the summer!



I planted some lupine this year. I always liked them in mountain meadows during Wyoming vacations when I was a kid. I needed something just their height in this area of the bed, so, in they went!



I planted some delphinium last year. One did not return this spring, although this one on the left did. I added two more, to keep it company. I'm seeing a pattern here. Do you suppose I pick the wrong plants, since they don't come back? Or, more likely, I somehow neglect them during the summer? I will try to be a better gardener this year!



And I planted columbine. This little blue beauty came back after the winter. I am planting some yellow ones tomorrow. And I have the traditional pink/rose ones, too. I love these. Too bad they bloom for only a short time! In this picture, you can also see the last of the alliums blooming. They spread last year, affirming my thought that I do pick the right flowers, I just neglect the ones that don't return. Not that that's a good thing.



Can you look at one last bed? This one I put inside my garden area, with the thought that I would plant flowers for cutting in it. I have, but I've planted other things, too.



These two ladies look similar, and like somewhat similar environments, so you would think they are related. Are they? I don't know. I just know I love them, and they way they smell. And I know the lavender will most likely be back next year; it is a perennial here. The rosemary is not. I will have to bring it in, or dry it. In the past, I have not done well at keeping it alive when I bring it in. Neither have many of my friends. Some of my friends are really good gardeners, so I have that it isn't just me!

By the way, the lavender is first. The rosemary is second.





And, finally, gaillardia, which tag tells me is also called Blanket Flower. I just know it's supposed to bloom in daisy-like blooms in shades of orange all summer, and is a perennial here. Had to try something new!



I would thank you for tiptoeing through the tulips with me, but that would be silly, since I didn't show you the tulips. Unless you recognized them in their late-spring-bent-over-splendor? Do you recognize this?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jip

Finally, some photos of the new pup. He's turning out OK, if a lot more aloof than our other terriers ever were. He's also got a skin thing which looks as though may never go away. But he's a good boy!

Notice his intense concentration in this shot. He really couldn't care less about the mail I'm reading. If you look closely, you'll see I have a small dish of chocolate chips in my lap. That's the draw!



Isn't he a cutie?



He's got that terrier attitude, though. You can see, in this video Mary made, that he is stubborn about breaking eye contact. You do know not to lose a stare-down with your dog, right? Direct eye contact from a dog is a challenge, and, if you want to be the Alpha in your dog's pack, you'd better not give in on that one! He won't make long eye contact with John or me, but he and Mary are still working out that pecking order thing.

video

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Hunt

Finally downloaded a myriad of photos from the camera to the computer. Let's share...

A few weeks ago, we realized we were again being invaded by...rats. The disgusting things are camped out under our chicken house, which provides them with abundant grain and, sadly, some meat. I know, I know, don't leave feed bags lying on the floor, clean up often and scrupulously, etc, etc. Well, the feed lives in galvanized cans; no bags lying around here! And I sweep often. But there's that big old feeder hanging in the chicken house. It has to be there. So there's a ready supply of grain always available. Rat Heaven.

We decided that it would be better to dispatch some of the rats to a more unearthly afterlife, if there is such a thing for rats. Jay and John set out, armed to the teeth, for to shoot them some rats.



They hunted.



They tried flushing them out.



Those little suckers were fast. Even Soldier Boy only got off a few good shots. This was the result.




Hey, guys, one less rat makes me happy. But they were a little sheepish.





So I am trying another tack. I put out poison this weekend. I hate doing that, because it is too easy for the dogs, and even the hens, to find it, or find a rat that has succumbed to it. Last year we lost 4 hens when I poisoned rats. I hope we don't this year!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

"When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, teens need to realize the decisions they make are permanent and will affect them for the rest of their lives. Abortion may seem like the only choice, and the easiest way out, but abortion is permanent. There is no bringing back a dead baby.

This "Life Quote" is from Lutherans For Life

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

A busy, but fun day. We started out at a dog clinic; a 4H meeting of kids "doing dogs," this one had demonstrations of sled dogs and hunting dogs. John and I spent it at Starbuck's. Trust me, they were better off without us, decaffeinated as we were!

We hit several garden centers on the way to visit Mom. This weekend, I've planted gazania, edelweiss, sedum, dahlias, lupines, delphiniums, dianthus, foxglove and gaillardia. I have tons of pictures, but will share them next week. I also moved some lilies and some lavender, and planted sage, peppers and one other edible...why I can't remember is beyond me!

Played with my horse today; just brushing, feeding apples and, oh yeah, deworming. She LOVES that. Here's a picture, not of her, but of another horse reacting as she did this afternoon when she got her dose. It's hard not to laugh when you see that!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There Is Hope

Not always in agreement with the makers of this video, but it was just what I needed today. Thanks to my darling daughter for telling me about it!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

"Who has more influence on the Church: the Word or the world? Theories of evolution don't mix with the Truth of creation (Genesis 1:1; 27) Arousing love before its time (Song of Solomon 3:5b) is contrary to love that is patient (I Corinthians 13:4), pure (I Thessalonians 4:7, I Timothy 4:12) and procreative. Although Satan wanted woman to be the mother of death, God directed man to name his wife Eve because she would become the mother of all the living."

Lutherans for Life

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

I'm sorry. We've been back and forth to two hospitals with my mom over the past two weeks, and I've lost my steam. Blogging is beyond me for a bit.

Suffice it to say that the farm is still chugging along. We have new chicks, new sheep and a new dog. New pigs and turkeys are just around the corner. Pictures will be posted.

For now, I'm off to curl up in front of the TV with a dish of ice cream. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or Strawberry? That is the deepest decision I can handle tonight.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Day Like Any Other Day...Almost....

So today we were supposed to get the yard work done, eat lunch at Joe's, and head in to visit my mom. We didn't see Mom, and we didn't get all the yard work done.

Some people went shopping for things like rat poison and sheep feed, and didn't get that all done until -gasp- 12:30 (But there was a physical therapy appointment in there, too!)

Some people didn't drag their sorry carcasses out of bed until 12:45. I'm not sayin' who (MatthewandKeri.)

Surprisingly, one of us actually did some yardwork, yanking all the lambs' quarters out of my flower bed and putting away all the clean dishes, just like she was asked! (Thank you, Miss Mary!)

Also surprisingly, after lunch, when we went into Corbin's for a sight-seeing trip, we found an intriguing sign on the bulletin board. Seems someone had bought a puppy from Corbin's last fall, and discovered since that they are allergic to him. This ten-month-old sweetie was house broken, neutered, had all his shots, and they were offering him to a good home for free. So the Jack Russell terrier/Fox terrier cross puppy formerly known as Jack has come to live with us. We have named him Jip. (Because his name and our command for getting dogs to keep paws off humans, "Off!" well, you say them together and you'll understand the name change!)

John is pretty sure that his new owners didn't really have allergies. He's pretty sure that they quickly figured out that their small house and a Jack terrier mix just couldn't coexist harmoniously. But he has plenty of room to run around, and plenty to do here. He'll be happy.

Tomorrow we're introducing him to rats...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Today on the farm....some of us have been off of it! Mary and her friend, Lindsay, participated in a 4H Horse Judging Clinic. Mary finished 6th in the County; not as good as last year, but still respectable. I mean, how many kids want to give up a Saturday to learn something?

Some things on the farm were accomplished today, mostly cleaning. And we now have sheep again! Houdini (guess what his main skill is?) and Hermione. She may be staying with us; Houdini will, too, but he'll be in little white packages in the freezer.

We got the chance to head to the hospital and watch the Kentucky Derby with Mom. Matthew and Keri came up from Oklahoma to see her, so we'll head to dinner in a bit. Then a movie.

Another exciting day on the farm!!