April 28, 2014

Chalk it Up to "Board"em: April

Although April is supposed to be filled with showers, that wasn't so this month. It was mostly sunny and spring like (with the exception of one snow). So, in celebration of the appearance of Mr. Sunshine, our chalkboard looked like this:

Now that I posted this, it is the stormiest time of the month! Go figure!

April 27, 2014

Garden of Eatin'

Another one of our multiple weekend projects (to go along with our 7,284 other ones) has been a vegetable garden.

After extensive research (reading one organic gardening magazine and pinning several tens of pins on pinterest), I decided to go through with putting out a garden this year.

In my head, I wanted a BHG style veggie garden. You know, the kind where you can pick a carrot and/or clip a bouquet of peonies in one trip. In my heart, I wanted a homestead where we utilized every square acre and would never have to shop for groceries again. What I ended up with was a small, traditional rectangle that would grow a few veggies and would also be a home to marigolds (for pesticide control) and sunflowers (for the fun of it).

And let me just say, hats off to homesteaders and BHG gardeners everywhere. My little quadrilateral is going to be quite enough for this green(horn)thumb.

Saturday, April 12: Just a tillin'. 

As the backroom project was going on, so was my course in Gardening 101. Walter and I went went to my aunt's and borrowed her tiller. I had never used one before, so I called my parents to do what they do best-- teach me. (Walter was too busy working with his brother on the back room project.)

Dad was a pro. He enjoyed it so much, he almost didn't want to stop and let me try!

I caught on pretty quickly. I just need to do some more push ups to be able to turn it easier.
We tilled the ground horizontally and then vertically to get rid of as much grass and weeds as we could. We didn't dig very deep. Then, we let the ground sit for a week.

One thing we discovered is that although the sun hits this spot all day long, when the evening hours come, the trees give a nice bit of shade making this the opportune time for harvesting and weeding on those hot summer days to come.

A week later (Saturday, April 19)...
Get this garden started!

Well, I thought I would. The truth is more tilling, weeding, digging and planning was required. I raked out the weeds and grass from the week before.

... and I put it all in a wheelbarrow with a flat.
While I was doing this, Walter, his brother, his aunt, and his uncle were working on several little projects down at the rock house. (His aunt and uncle came in from Pennsylvania and while they were visiting helped us pull all of the wire from the house, clean up the yard some, mow, AND helped me out in the garden. They were so much help!)

While Walter and Carlo were out selling wire and picking up lunch, Eunice and Mark made there way to the garden to help me out. They helped me pick out the stubborn weeds, dig deeper for my root vegetables, and till deeper into the ground. 

Everything was running smoothly. With one row left for Mark to till, the tiller ran out of gas. Then, we put diesel fuel in it. Whoops! 

We all learned a lesson that day. Diesel fuel comes in a hard to open yellow can (that says Diesel). Gasoline comes in a red can. 
Working to fix the problem.
See the yellow can. It means caution.

A view from Carlo's eyes of the garden spot.
The tiller was fixed, and although we didn't plant that day, we could plant at anytime.


However, anytime is very rare nowadays with all of the make-up hours and classwork I had to do. Yet, we found time to plant our seeds. We took shifts eating dinner on the tailgate of our truck as we each hoed lines, dropped seeds, and covered them.

What we planted: cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, strawberries, green onion, broccoli, sweet corn, and sunflowers. 


Mom gave me some marigolds to plant. I had read that they keep some pests away from the garden. I hope they work! After a day of house cleaning and a baby shower, Walter and I planted one row (we still have more to plant on the other side).

A picture of me actually doing work.

 This is obviously just the beginning. I hope it produces! And when it does, I hope I can keep out all the critters that I've enjoyed having around. Yes, I'm talking to you, deer.

April 26, 2014

Spring Snapshots

When doing my year recap in pictures, I realized I took zero spring pictures last year. I think it was because I was so focused on the work, that I didn't take the time to step back and enjoy the beauty of the place.I tried to make up for it a little over the past few weekends, by taking some snapshots of the flowers and buds here on the farm.

A lot of the beauty of spring is in the details. It's as if the trees adorn themselves with jewelry-- each trying to top the other. To capture this, I took many close up shots. Early in the spring, the landscape colors were reminiscent of fall or there was just a lot of green. The "spring" colors couldn't really be captured from a distance. The few landscape shots that I did take will probably look familiar. I like to take similar shots every season to compare the changes. From bold to subdued, I attempted to capture the beauty of the season and share it with others. Well, that's enough chatter. Let's get to the pictures.

As soon as I got out the camera, Ruth laid down and posed for me. Diva.

April 25, 2014

Project: Backroom

Did I mention we bought two houses? We are currently living in a small, white cottage type house on our hill. The house needs work just like the rock house. 

Last week, Walter decided to tear out the old (imagine that) and put in new walls and windows because the walls and windows were rotting out in the back utility room. 

His brother showed up two weekends ago, and helped him completely tear everything out. He also took some pictures with his cool Google Glass--es.

The intentions were to build the room back in order for this room to hold the washer and dryer (which is now on either side of my stove) as well as a few pantry shelves.. Walter and I even placed the order for materials that day (when we came back Carlo had pretty much torn everything out).  What he revealed was a pretty nice porch. Nice view. Nice breeze. Just the right amount of sun. This left us in a dilemma. Do we spend on a utility room or save and just fix the porch up?

I begged Walter to try to keep the windows in tact.

The walls weren't even touching the ground, they were so rotten.
All those black specks are ants. The walls were full of them.

The room had been a porch at one time. Our dilemma now is whether to rebuild or leave a porch.

New siding and a new door coming soon.

April 24, 2014

Project: Screendoor

 This project took us about an hour to do. We had used one of those magnetic screen doors last summer, but decided to go with something a little more durable. All we had to do was buy a T-frame screen door and a screen door kit from our local hardware store.

1. Buy a strip of wood.

2. First, you have to drill holes. Then, screw the wood onto the door frame.

3. Place door against wooden strip. (Hope that it doesn't fall on you.)

4. Place hinges and mark where screw holes.

5. Screw in place.

6. Add hardware.
After installing, Walter added some thicker strips of wood to the two thin horizontal bars to give it more weight and add sturdiness.

April 23, 2014

That time of year!

The last few weeks of March rendered themselves useless to us because our weekends were devoted to watching the UK Wildcats make an amazing run in the NCAA tournament.

The first weekend of spring, Walter was greeted with an allergy attack (nice to see you too, spring). While he couldn't enjoy the great outdoors like he wished, he did manage to capture some images of a forest fire running rampant in the mountains across from us. Yes, it's that time of year too.

The next weekend, we were runnin'.

Our town holds an annual Redbud Festival celebrating our Appalachian culture. This year, to kick off the festivities they Barbourville Junior Women's Study Club sponsored a 5k where the money paid to enter went to a charity, the run was called No Excuse for Child Abuse.

Even though I value my health (most of the time) and believe exercise is important, I don't always feel like paying that money to run streets I could run any other day for free. BUT, as a teacher and summer camp counselor who works with kids regularly and feels the need to represent them in anyway I can, I took action and signed Walter and I up for it.

It was fun (even though I almost threw up once right before the finish line because someone threw a cup full of pink dyed cornstarch directly into my mouth). Fortunately, the WYMT reporter didn't see that. Oh yeah, did I mention Walter and I were interviewed for the news that day? We thought that was cool until we saw ourselves through the lens of a news camera. Yikes. Thankfully, the Wildcats were playing to get into the championship game that same day, so we weren't headliners.

Our photo courtesy of WYMT-TV. You can see the video story by clicking the link.

April 22, 2014

Project: Driveway.

Remember the Tractor Tiff that occurred almost exactly this time last year? Well, one of Walter's promises during his tractor campaign was to widen the driveway with the tractor, fix the drainage problems around the driveway, build a retaining wall and add some steps up.

Sounds like a lot of promises to keep right? Well, not for Walter. He started the project in early March and has kept up the work (when he can) on the project.

It's possible that this project gained some urgency after my near death experience during the extremely slick, one inch snowfall we had back in January. I'll admit that I exaggerate... a bit... on this blog, but this was a close call for my legs at least. We were going to head to Walmart to purchase some salt to make the walkway less slippery (ironically).  Walter was going to back the truck up so I wouldn't have to walk down the slick, not really steep but steep enough to slide down slope-- but I didn't realize this so I went frolicking down the driveway in my usual snow free way. 

As I took my last step and reached for the car door, my feet flew out from under me. In that same second, Walter started backing up. (He says it was to be a gentlemen, but...) There I was looking up at the truck as half my body lie directly in the tire's path. My only option would have been to roll in the direction of the tire and hope I could roll faster. But with the way Walter pulls out, that wasn't likely so I just laughed. Then, in a fashion that would make a slapstick comedy director proud, Walter hit the brake. He jumped out of the truck and had to drag my body out from under the truck. My bottom hurt for about two days, my pride was hurt for pretty much forever. 

Ah, memories.

Now to the DIY stuff. A few weekends ago (March), he made some more progress. Here's a look:

Moving a rock so he could dig.

The tractor is to Walter as a horse is to a cowboy. 

I climbed on the tractor with him to see from his point of view.
 His goal for the day was to pour a foundation for the block wall, but he also put in a pipe for drainage.
Step 1: Dig.

Step 2: Build a frame. Walter is resourceful. He built the frame from some scrap flooring we pulled from the rock house.

Step 3: Wrap the pipe to prevent it from leaking water into the concrete.

Step 4: Fill in with gravel to ensure proper drainage.

Step 5: Let dry and admire your handiwork.