Farms

This is a picture of me (pigtails) and my mom on her new land. She and her husand-to-be purchased 50 acres of land on the West side of Illinois. It is beautiful. I never thought I would be a farm girl, but all this reading about food and raising crops has me a little giddy about this. I am very excited at the thought of “going home to the farm” in years to come. They are planting on 50% of the land and also raise bees and make honey. Most of the land has clover and alfalfa (for the horse that will come later). They planted a large garden and also hops this year. Later, they hope to plant a lot of grapes and sell them to local wineries to produce wine with. Every fall they will plan to have a ‘harvest party’ and people will come and help pick the grapes. I hope that they raise their food organically…

I was talking with them about the CSA program that we signed up for, and my stepdad-to-be had never heard of such a thing. Wouldn’t it be great if they could start something similar in small-town Illinois?

An update on the CSA program: we were kicked out of our first choice for a farm! This is a good thing – they overbooked by 50%. While that was slightly irritating, in the grand scheme of things, that means more people are ‘getting it’ – that buying locally raised produce is better for you and your local economy. We were able to find another – One Step at a Time Gardens – and they gladly took us on. Now, the state is flooded with water, and the folks at that farm can’t get out of their farm! Their driveway and lane is covered in water, so we will have to wait for our very first delivery. It’s raining now and more is forecast for the next two days, so I doubt we’ll get that first delivery soon. Cross your fingers that too much damage isn’t done to their farm.

View more pictures of my mom’s farm here.

new everything

hi. long time no blog. we’ve been so busy lately with weekend trips, working, BBQs, and softball every sunday and monday. don’t worry – my batting average is .667. woot!

yesterday we got another home improvement estimate from a really nice dude. there is a company that has been in business nationally for 30+ years, and is ranked #47 out of 500 in the nation for home improvement contractors. pretty good in my book. they recently started offering a ‘green’ (although i hate that word) line of products. recycled blow-in insulation, recycled roofing shingles, VOC-free paint, etc. so, i called them as we need insulation and exterior painting.

the very nice gentleman arrived early and we showed him the attic, and where you can access the eaves to blow in the insulation. i mentioned to him that we have no attic vents, so perhaps he could include that also.

him: “you HAVE to have attic vents, i’m sure of it. otherwise, your walls would be rotting.”

me: “i’m pretty sure we don’t have any. at all.”

him: “sure you do.”

me: “OK.”

then we go downstairs and outside, so he can measure our house to see how much the exterior paint job would cost. i followed him out.

me: “so, please point out to me what the attic vents look like, if you think we actually have them.

him: “wow. you really don’t have any. that’s weird.”

me: “right. thanks.”

so, in addition to a new paint job and insulation, we also got an estimate for a new roof and a ridge vent that they place on the length of the peak of our house.

this makes 2-3 times where contractors come to our house and say: “wow, i’ve never seen that before.”

makes you feel real good.

i’m kind of excited b/c I think we can get all three of those things done this summer. woohoo! growing up, i never knew i’d be so excited about home improvements.

next up: an asbestos removal quote so i can turn in all of our paperwork to get our “free” new furnace, A/C, and perhaps a paved driveway. then i won’t have to mow it.

don’t go to the hardware store on a saturday.

Today i was excited for a weekend off and planned way too many things. we got up at 6:30 to go garage sale-ing. i had to wear three shirts, a winter coat, a stocking cap and mittens. halfway through i stated that i should have worn my long underwear. i was not joking. the only really good thing we found were matching men’s and women’s vintage green schwinn bicycles. we got some newer schwinns for our birthdays last year, so we didn’t get them. they were pretty sweet, though.

i ran to the grocery store and came home and made black bean burgers from scratch for lunch. i am so domestic sometimes. then we decided that going to lowe’s was still a good idea. for some reason, if i spend longer than 15 minutes in a hardware store, i end up with that glazed-over overwhelmed look and it tends to last for hours. too many wheels turning planning too many projects, i presume. we got mulch, a broadcast spreader, organic lawn food, wire brushes (to scrape off the mold in the basement…), a shiny new bucket, mold spray that i presume won’t work, and some crazy fence things for the front yard. wow. no coincidence that we stopped at the liquor store immediately after.

i mowed the lawn when we got home – i saw someone mowing theirs on the way home so i decided it was time for us too. i got the back done and the mower ran out of gas. the neighbor came out and we discussed the lakes that were in our basements. i felt so much better knowing it wasn’t just us. ours is just about dried out now, but more rain is forecast for the next few days. once it dries out, i’m going to town with mold spray and the wire brush, so i can re-waterproof the walls.

then it was on to pulling weeds and raking up some stray leaves and ornamental grass clippings. i get crazy satisfaction by ripping out weeds and their roots by hand. now, i feel like a pollen colony is making babies in my sinus cavities. yikes. 

i am so glad after this tiring day that we’ve been invited over to a friend’s house – and we are being treated to homemade ravioli and homemade sorbet. all i have to do is bring a salad. done and done.

updates:

– colonel still has the barking problem. the mailman scared him today and andy came home right after, and i thought he was going to kill andy. advice for this, please.

– still water in the basement but i think it’s almost dry. think. can’t see behind the classy wood paneling that covers two walls. i think i’ll paint the wood paneling to make it look even classier.

– spring cleaning was postponed when the midwest decided to go back to the days of winter. when it’s cold i tend to ball up like a turtle with blankets from the minute i get home unitl it’s bedtime. i have a very active social life.

– i have decided it’s easier and cheaper to make my own sandwich bread. it’s soooo delicious. 

– tips for ripping out ugly overgrown hedges, anyone? volunteers? 

– i was reading up on summer squash and i think i planted mine too early. i will make it work in pots until it’s warm enough to put them in the ground is. problem is, they say to grow no more than 2 plants. more than that, and you’ll have squash out of your ears. i have 8 beautiful seedlings and i can’t bear to kill them.😦

 

plantings and things

This morning, I put on my crazy pants and decided what a great time to transplant some of the out-of-control seedlings I started indoors. The newspaper said it’s supposed to get down below freezing again next week (yikes!), so I can’t put them in the ground yet. Sad. 

Trouble almost came my way when I left the lid on the seedlings too long and some little mold started to grow. That explained the odor on the front porch… I looked into it and they should be fine. And they are growing like weeds! Photos here

I recycled some of the tupperware containers we’ve been collecting over the past few years. I hear glass is better to store leftovers in, anyway, so I’m excited about this. 

UPDATE:

The Green Bags I bought awhile ago seem to be pretty good. The spinach I had in one bag was good for 3 weeks with no wilting or sliminess – still crisp! Normally my spinach starts to slime after about a week. The tomatoes lasted that long as well. I would not recommend them for citrus, and they seemed to make our bell peppers a little squishy. Not sure if this was the bag or the product, as the bell pepper selection last time was not so good. 

We got our water heater installed. It took 4 hours and lots of banging on the floor below where I was sitting. The workers found a dead bird in some type of pipe/flue which is kind of strange. It was petrified. 

Colonel has been really bad about barking. He has access to two windows and gets to go on the front porch now. I would say his 3rd favorite thing is barking. Next to sleeping and eating. Not sure how to remedy this one…

That is all for now! This weekend is a big athletic event at the university near where we live. I’m hoping not to have to kick anyone out of my yard…

Spring Cleaning

I have a long list of ‘spring cleaning’ items going, and I feel like if I post it here, I will be more accountable and thus more likely to complete these tasks. As always, I like to include a few things I’ve done already so that I can cross them off the list.🙂

INSIDE
Vacuum, dust, and wipe down all surfaces of main level
Vacuum, dust and wipe down front porch
– Clean all windows
– Vacuum, dust and wipe down all surfaces of upstairs (that one will be a bit nasty)
– Shop-vac basement, including spiderwebs and 5-inch long centipede monsters
Scrub kitchen floor and floor at rear entryway
– Dust and re-organize bedroom to make it not so cluttered
– Clean out closets and rid clothing I don’t wear anymore
– Reorganize hallway built-in and drawers
– Clean out refrigerator and clean all surfaces inside it
– Clean oven
– Clean microwave
– Wipe down all surfaces of bathroom
– Reorganize TV room closet so it’s not so jumbled
– Organize basement so things aren’t lying on the floor or in heaps

OUTSIDE
Rake and clean up garden, add compost, and plant some things
Rake dog run area
– Finish ridding dog run of rocks and landscape tarp, plant grass
– Re-build compost bin/heap
– Weed yard and spread grass seed
– Finish adding rock edging around deck
– Rid house foundation of collected leaves and debris
– Get rid of ugly hedges in front of house, plant pretty ones
– Clean out gutters, remove storm windows and put screens on (this is Andy’s task…)

Tomorrow, I will post the home-improvement list!

a good read

We are reading a book for a book club we’re in (kind of, we didn’t read the first one…). We’re reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

I’m only on page 16, but excited nonetheless. I think I prefer nonfiction as of late. The book, I’m told, chronicles a year of being a locavore – eating only things produced locally. Including dairy, meat, vegetables and the like. The book starts by the family uprooting from Tuscon and moving to Virginia in order to accomplish this.

Not that we are locavores, but we signed up for a program that will help us be partial locavores for the next 6 months. A local organization called The Homestead raises crops from May-Oct – locally in Pleasant Hill, Iowa. You can sign up to receive a full or half share (half share feeds 1-2 people per week). You get a box full of goodies once a week – vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruit depending on the month and what is in fruition. It comes out to about $5-7 per week! Everything is produced locally, organically, and with out any nasty pesticides. I can’t wait to get our first box of goodies.

I think we eat pretty healthy as it is, but I am excited to see how this will take our diet to the next level, all while supporting a local organization and giving us healthier options for food. I’m even going to volunteer at the Homestead in order to slightly reduce the cost of our share. How neat is that?

The Homestead also employs primarily people with autism – giving them tasks to focus on and help them learn how to make things grow with care.

gross.

I just killed a 5-inch long (no exaggerating here, folks) centipede that appeared on the wall of our kitchen. Eeeeeeeeek! I would have taken a photo, but time was put to the wayside as I rushed to find something to kill it with. Paper towels were out so I grabbed a newspaper and sprayed it with some bleach water. To no avail! It was on the wall above the furnace vent (where I think it came from – I hope?) crawling up toward our mug rack. All of the mugs are now set to be washed thankyouverymuch.

Bleach water = nothing to the centipede. I hit him 5-8 times with rolled up newspaper, then squished it with the newspaper. I then went to get the new roll of paper towels, came back, AND HE WAS CRAWLING UP THE WALL AGAIN. Sucker wouldn’t die. I had to spend another 5 long minutes spraying and squishing and finally he was a goner. So gross. Grossgrossgross.

After some wikipedia research, they are apparently good b/c they eat other bugs. No thank, you. Not in my kitchen, at least.