Thursday, May 02, 2013

Visiting the Spring

One of the many wonderful things about our little parcel of land here in Fairview is our water - it is free and it comes from a cool, clear spring.  And it is delicious, as far as water goes.  

Lately though, anytime we have a good long rain our water has turned muddy.  It doesn't last long and it doesn't stop us from drinking it (minerals!), but we would prefer it stay clear.  Wes thinks the muddiness is likely due to some earth-moving we did last fall near the cistern, but it had been 6 months or more since our last visit to the spring so we thought we would go see what was going on up there.  

Our spring is housed, if you can call it that, in a cinderblock box with the hood of an old International truck for a roof.  It has a PVC pipe that runs down the hill, then across the creek about 10 feet in the air.  Once on our side of the creek it takes a 90 degree turn and heads underground to our cistern, which is just behind the house.  It is a high-tech set up, really.  

With Lincoln ready to help, Wes checked for leaks and then added a layer of plastic under the hood to keep any rainwater from leaking in.  Audrey and I stood close by admiring wild flowers and trying to keep away from poison ivy.  

Once the job was done we started for home, but Audrey wasn't ready.  Daddy stayed with her at the creek so she could play "slippy bippy" and Lincoln and I hiked back to the house. 

The explorers were rewarded with an arrowhead they found while watching a millipede.  Lincoln and I had lunch ready when they got back.  It was a good day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What We're Doing

Every day I think of about 3 things I would like to write a post about, but I only sit down to actually write about once a week.  The past week has been filled with all sorts of things I would like to write about, more than usual really, but since life goes on and new things happen every day I thought I would just hit the highlights in one long and rambling post.  

We went to Watertown on Saturday for the Mile Long Yard Sale and to deliver our old chicken tractor and some chicks to my friend Addie.  I had high hopes for finding some treasures at the yard sales, but we ended up spending most of our time at my stepdad's house where my brother and sister-in-law were selling.  Lincoln had t-ball practice in the morning, so we didn't make it to Kenneth's house (on the outskirts of town) until nearly noon.  When we finally headed to town the train was still there and it was pretty crazy, so we just did a slow lap around the square and called it quits.  We did manage to eat some delicious homemade ice cream and some sort of barbecue-nacho concoction, and I found a few clothes in a free box outside a consignment store.  Everything else we saw was the typical flea market fare of overpriced "antiques" and knock-offs.  It was fun nevertheless, but the real finds of the Mile Long are at the individual yard sales.  Next time, maybe.  

We did score a few gems from my brother and his family, including a stack of workbooks for preschoolers.  Lincoln really loves this kind of thing right now, and these books have been occupying him for literally hours everyday since we brought them home.  He is cutting and gluing (his two favorite activities), learning to write numbers, and learning to read a few short words.  These books alone were worth the trip (thanks, Veronica!!!).  We also brought home a small jungle of house plants from my stepdad, breaking my rule of "if we can't eat it we don't want it."  Really, though, I am happy to have them and I think they make the place a little more homey.  

After we left the square we went to Addie's to deliver her new pets.  She lives in downtown Alexandria and has started a small scale chicken operation with a neighbor friend.  They now have a combined 5 chicks that will soon be living in our old chicken tractor.  Her two kids are now the proud caretakers of a New Hampshire Red, a Leghorn, and a Plymouth Barred Rock.  All hens.  Hopefully.

The rest of the past week's excitement has been close to home.  Practically everything is in bloom or budding, our hen is broody again (not the last you will hear about this), and Audrey has figured out scissors (read: tiny bits of paper EVERYWHERE).  I also made some amazingly good bread a few days ago.  I think my next post will be that recipe.  Oh, and my Vitamix broke.  Seriously.  It is boxed up for Wes to give to UPS tomorrow.  As far as appliances go, I love that thing more than even my Kitchen Aid (if you have a Kitchen Aid you know how serious that statement is).  Hopefully it will be fixed and back in my kitchen soon.  
Broody Hen sitting on 12 eggs!
Wild onions, weeds, and black plastic aside, I think it looks pretty nice.
We are reading some great books around here, too.  The kids and I are reading Wizard of Oz, thanks to a recommendation by my sister-in-law, and I must say it has exceeded all of my expectations.  Did you know that there is a whole series of those books?!  Fourteen, I think.  Truly, I like the book more than the movie.  Lincoln and even Audrey are both really enjoying it, too.  I am reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and it too is amazing.  A while ago I read In Defense of Food and thought it was great, but The Omnivore's Dilemma is even more in depth and thought provoking.  I appreciate that he seems to write with no particular bias, just from the position of a person who likes food and has an interest in where his food comes from.  Of all the food books I have read, and the list is extensive, this is the one that I think everyone who eats should read.  

The garden is a mess, but the berries are doing great and I expect to be harvesting our first blueberries in a few weeks, followed shortly by raspberries and blackberries.  Plums should be here before we know it, too.  The seeds we started in egg cartons and paper rolls are sprouting, so hopefully they will be the saving grace of the vegetable garden.  If not, there is always the farmer's market.  
Kale sprouting in the garden.  In addition to about 3 pea sprouts, this is all I have managed to grow out there so far.
Blossoms and a big bumblebee on a Patriot highbush blueberry.
Tiny berries forming on a lowbush-type Sunshine Blue blueberry.
Lincoln's first t-ball game is Saturday morning.  I promise I will take pictures.  In the meantime, here are a few precious ones of the kiddos.

(All pictures in this post were taken with an iPhone.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


We have been working outside a little every day for the past week or so, and I must admit to a little discouragement.  On Sunday we took a family walk out to the garden.  When I pulled back the row covers to check the progress of my little seeds I saw this:

All that green is not the lettuce, onions, and carrots I planted.  

I shouldn't be surprised.  We broke new ground, it is spring, the ground is fertile, etc.  I am keeping perspective about it, remembering that we are new to this and that we will learn and improve with time.  Still, I was really hoping to find a few more seedlings and a few less weeds.  

The weeds are not restricted to the garden.  Right now our yard is more dandelion than grass, and the chickweed is making its comeback, too.  

Admiring a honey bee hard at work on a dandelion blossom. 

On the brighter side, I do love all the flowers - weed, wildflower, and intentional blooms are all equally beautiful and welcome signs of Spring.  

How about you?  How is your garden growing?

Friday, April 12, 2013


Here are some of the things that are making me happy lately:

Homemade kettle corn.  I made this for a snack and almost wouldn't let the kids have any.  It was that good.  

Little eggs from our youngest hens.

Seed starting.

The curl in the middle of this little girl's forehead.  The rest of the rhyme holds true.  

My rainy day sewing project.

Spring buds and blooms.

The white water in the creek after a day-long gully washer.

Kiddos and an umbrella.  And kid legs in shorts.

This amazing meal.

My t-ball player.

I hope you have lots of things making you happy right now, too!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


The quilt is finished and was handed off to my niece as soon as the last stitch was tied.  It went into use immediately.   

Lincoln's tie was finished in time for our family Easter celebration and I have cast on his sweater.  I am working on it a little bit each day, happy in the knowledge that I have all summer to finish it.  

Saturday we planted our first seeds (broccoli, carrots, green onions, peas, kale, lettuces).  We are a bit behind schedule for the cool weather crops, but even a small harvest will be welcome.  

Sunday we killed and butchered our last two roosters (the hens were thankful!), and stacked wood and cleaned up the backyard.  We also dyed Easter eggs.  

Monday was the most beautiful day of the year so far.  We were able to hang laundry on the line and play outside barefoot.  I made it out to the berry patch to admire all the swollen buds on the blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry bushes.   

Today we planted potatoes and chucked rocks out of the garden.  We didn't even begin to make a dent in the rock population.    

We have been wonderfully busy, and I am so very looking forward to more of these days.