Dying Art

Once upon a time women were taught beautiful arts. At bridal showers, the bride received a “Bless This House,” cross stitch/embroidery, or something along those lines to hang in their new house from a grandmother or an aunt. When babies came, quilts and afghans were made for the little one to snuggle up with as a gifts from older generations. Schools are cutting art and music programs and parents are enraged. So why are these same people not enraged that they were not taught these other precious gifts?

My aunts taught my mother how to crochet, and she in turn taught me. They started the tradition of making baby blankets when ever a little one is on the way. It is something that my mother and I have both continued to do for our friends over the years. It’s not huge, or fancy, but something most mothers and children treasure over the years. When I’m cold, I just make ear warmers and scarves. FullSizeRenderI’ve been blessed to grow up surrounded by women who were fortunate to know these arts, whether out of necessity or choice. I have grown up in a house full of pieces lovingly cross stitched and surrounded by crocheted afghans and heirloom quilts from aunts, my great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, mother, and myself. Throughout the year quilts and larger blankets grace our quilt hanger….the majority of which were made by these women. IMG_5939I recently set up one of my sewing machines. I learned how to sew on my great-grandmothers Singer. I am nowhere near the seamstress as the other ladies in my life, but I’m working on it! I needed a skirt for a costume. Working at JoAnn Fabrics, I bought myself some supplies and made my Minnie Mouse skirt, for a fraction of the price a skirt like this would cost in stores. It took me 30 minutes.
IMG_5936I was struggling with a bridal gift. I remembered that I had some embroidery floss from making friendship bracelets in high school. Again, working at JoAnn’s, I bought myself some hoops, fabric, needles, and more floss. I’ve now completed 3 pieces in the last month. IMG_5810 IMG_5938 FullSizeRender-1I am not posting this to brag about my craft savvy. It’s a question and something for us all to think about- when did we get so busy that our mother’s and grandmothers and great grandmothers couldn’t teach us these gifts? For hundreds of years women spent their days using their hands, passed down from generation to generation. Many times, it was out of necessity. Wool was spun, clothes and blankets were made. Embroidery was for more than decorative tapestries, but to decorate what would have otherwise been a very plain dress or cloak. My pieces are a far cray from Renaissance pieces like this one.

05a7bb2f9453c6ef834e58f6c06abd99

Elizabethan Polychrome Nightcap c.1600.

How did our lives get so busy that basic skills like sewing a button or fixing a hole in a garment have been lost to the past? Why is there such little interest in these hobbies in the younger generations? When did these arts get lost? When did they begin to die?

As of right now, I have 3 weddings and a baby this year, not ME, but other people. Since handmade gifts like these don’t show up at showers too often, I have made it my mission to be that person. Everyone deserves to have something that can’t be bought, something made just for them, something that will last, something that is literally stitched with love. I am not saying our mothers, our aunts, or our grandmothers have done a disservice, but quite the opposite. I think we have let them down by not looking to them to teach us these arts that they so painstakingly learned. I for one am taking the stand. I want my children, my friends and my family, to grow up in houses full of love, full of stories, and full of art- just like mine.

 

Advertisements

Garden Growth

GREAT PUMPKIN! I don’t think anyone quite understands the joy of having not one, but MULTIPLE pumpkins growing right now. Last year, we had a giant plant and no pumpkins. I LOVE pumpkins. Pumpkin carving and pumpkin seeds are two of my most favorite things in the world. I have not ventured to pumpkin soup. That might change this fall though! They’re still little, and look more like our watermelons, BUT THEY’RE PUMPKINS! Yeah, I’m that excited. Like a kid in a candy store.

imagejpeg_0 IMG_0538 IMG_8056

Of course, the tomatoes. They are HUGE! And we have had a few start to turn red. I can’t believe how big they are this year. We must have done something right to the soil. We didn’t get very many even close to the size of these guys. By the time I get back from Antrim I will have a bajillion to make sauce with! Thank goodness I have already set a day aside to do it!

IMG_3176 IMG_3177 IMG_3178 IMG_3181 IMG_3182

And the chickens. They are still growing. Their combs are slowly but surly coming in. They LOVE eating strawberries and have begun to associate me with feeding them the delicious little treats. The other day I saw one of the girls “assume the position.” I had never seen a chicken lay an egg and didn’t realize it was different from when they just kind of sit down. Eric, who has a bit more experience informed me that that is how they sit when they are laying an egg! No eggs yet but hopefully that’s a sign that they are coming soon!!! 🙂 I love their fluffy little butts too!

IMG_3124 IMG_3127 IMG_3128 IMG_3131 IMG_3132

Babies! And Not Just the Chickens!

We have lots of “little” things around the gardens this week! I can assure you I am NOT growing one myself. Just wanted to clarify so that my mother doesn’t have a heart attack. 🙂 We are hitting that point in the summer where everything is really starting to grow. We have more than just green beans and strawberries coming in! Though, let’s face it, nobody is complaining about either of those things!

First, we’ll check in with the strawberries! They are due for another shoot cut off and bury day in the very near future! They are producing like crazy and it’s wonderful! I love going outside to pick breakfast FRESH every morning!

IMG_3016      IMG_3017

Next, the mater plants. It’s like a forest. We have beautiful baby green tomatoes! By the time I get back from my mission trip the first week in August they will be ripe and ready to turn into SAUCE! 😀

IMG_3004.JPG      IMG_3005.JPG      IMG_3006.JPG

Baby watermelons are the cutest. They’re just adorable. Our watermelon plants are monsters this year and I have a feeling we will have some monster melons to go with them!

IMG_3008.JPG      IMG_3007.JPG      IMG_3009.JPG

We trimmed the pumpkin back a TON so that the main plant, some choice leaves and the blooms have been left. This helps ensure that the good stuff can go towards making PUMPKINS! 😀

IMG_3010.JPG

We’ve got fuzzy little sprouts on a number of our corn plants. Whether or not we get some real ears this year will be the real question! They’re growing like weeds and looking good so we’re hoping we get SOMETHING from them!

IMG_3018

Last, but certainly not least- the ACTUAL babies! THE CHICKENS! I don’t think I can quite call them babies anymore being that they have all of their big girl feathers. They aren’t quite laying yet but we should be getting our first eggs by the end of August! They also, after well over a month, have figured out that they can roost all together in a row on the hockey stick, seen in the first photo in the top right corner. They have all turned gorgeous shades of red, mahogany and brown. Women pay big bucks to have their hair dyed the colors of these girls. Their combs are turning red and their beaks are getting darker. They have totally made friends with Miller, through the fence of course.

IMG_3012.JPG      IMG_3015 IMG_3014

The gardens are producing, growing, and taking over. There is something humbling, earthing, and beautiful about being able to go outside and get fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh green beans for dinner.

Jeremiah 29:5 “ Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;”

New Additions

Eric had a brilliant idea. Our girls love roosting together in a row and the balusters we set up aren’t too long. So he put an old hockey stick for them. GENIUS! Of course they weren’t hanging out on it when I went out to take pictures.

IMG_2815

Our gardens have some new additions as well! We have our first baby beans starting to burst through!

IMG_2807 IMG_2810

Eric’s tomato plant was the first of them to have a mater bud.

IMG_2820 IMG_2821

And the strawberries are coming in strong!

IMG_2811

I plucked a few before work. I meant to take pictures of them but uhhh oops! They were delicious!

IMG_2819

 

 

Meeting the Neighbor

Our super nice neighbors have a super adorable dog named Miller. Miller is our friendly bud who loves to run over to our side of the yard to say hi…all of the time. He also LOVES swimming. They too have a pool and he has learned how to use the ladder to get both in and out when he’s not super-dog jumping in. He’s an absolute sweetheart and while Eric and I were out checking on the girls, Miller decided to pay a visit.

IMG_2733 IMG_2734

He just wanted to play with them! He had been around chickens before, so he was very aware of them. The pen stood up to his gentle giant pawing, in his feeble attempt to say “hi.” I’m now pretty confident that the pen and coop are predator proof. 😉 And being the sassy ladies that they are, they stood right along the fence taunting the poor guy like the knew he couldn’t bust through and get them.

IMG_2736 IMG_2737

They also discovered the nesting boxes. Their first few days they stayed on the lower level and grass. Eric went out and plopped them all up there the day before so that they would figure it out. By this evening they were “flying” up and down, not even using the ramp. By the time we said goodnight to Miller (and the neighbors) the four of them were all settled up in their boxes for the evening.

The other great entertainment of the day was watching one of the girls get a worm while the other three chased her around the run in an attempt to get a piece of the delicious new treat.

I believe I can officially say the chickens have made a fully successful transition into their new home.

Early Summer Harvest and Chicken Changes

IMG_2684

WE GOT POTATOES! We had a few plants that were ready to be dug up and by golly we did it! Our biggest ones were about the size of a small lemon all the way down to about a marble. Eric was so excited I made stew with them the other night. It got chilly up here with the rain, and so that was his request. We still have about half of our tater plants in the ground so hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be pulling some more.

Some things we’ll do differently ned year-

SAND! We always add a bit of sand to the soil to help loosen it up, but being that potatoes grow underground, we’re pretty sure they only grew so much because the ground was a bit too hard. We will be cultivating a specific area with extra sand and till the ground a bit more in that specific area. Hopefully with these little changes we’ll have some bigger ones!

Not too shabby for our first time growing them!

The rest of the garden is in full bloom!

IMG_2673 IMG_2674

We spent a good half hour weeding and working the strawberry patch. Eric covered shoots, transplanted whole plants and worked the whole patch. It’s suddenly gotten a bit out of hand! We had a good passing storm that uncovered half of them so we had to go back out and re-cover the shoots. Quite a few had finally taken root and were ready to be “cut off” from the mother plant. You can learn more about controlling a strawberry patch in my post Root and Shoot.

IMG_2677 IMG_2678

Once again our pumpkin plant is kicking butt! Hopefully these big leaves will turn into big blooms and giant pumpkins this fall!

IMG_2680 IMG_2676

We’ve got some friends hanging around the gardens too. We have little pencil toads EVERYWHERE! Hundreds of them. In the grass, around the pool, in the gardens, the chicken run- EVERYWHERE! We also have a mating pair of doves in close proximity. This pretty lady hung out in our green bean sea while we worked in the strawberry patch. She probably would have let me touch her I was able to get so close. Pandora, chatting, and walking around and through the gardens didn’t bother her one bit. It’s like she knew we wouldn’t bother or hurt her.

IMG_2714 IMG_2718 IMG_2720 IMG_2721

AND the most exciting part of the weekend!? THE BABIES ARE OUT! They have finally been transported from their heat lamp, cozy little crate to the big outdoors! They spent the first 12 hours or so huddled in the coop in a corner. They hadn’t ever seen or been on grass before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. They sat and stared at their food and water dishes across the run for hours. By the next morning they were running around like they owned the place. One of them finally took the plunge to the great expanse of their new home. They thoroughly enjoy smooshing themselves all onto one roosting baluster and knock each other off. They are now LOVING the grass and are settling in quite nicely. It’s getting much harder to tell them apart now that their big girl feathers are all coming in! No more blondies in the group.

Coop and Poop but the Chickens are CUTE!

While the babies have been inside growing and hanging out under the heat lamp, Eric and I have been hard at work putting together their new home. And by Eric and I being hard at work I mean mostly Eric. 😉 Thankfully, though we no longer have Penny, we have lots of containment items from when we had her! We had a 6×8 chain link outdoor pen with a door that was no longer in use. We removed one of these sides to install the coop at the open end. By doing this the chickens have a good bit of area to cluck around and the coop isn’t taking up any ground space. We then took plywood and 2x4s to fashion the bones of the coop. The roof of the coop is on hinges to allow us access to the nesting boxes and eggs.

get-attachment-1.aspx get-attachment-2.aspx

get-attachment-1.aspx get-attachment-3.aspx

We made upper level nesting boxes and roosting/hangout space on the bottom. With the pen having a door and the coop having the hinged roof, cleaning is a breeze.

get-attachment-2.aspx get-attachment.aspx

Like the idea of a removable pan in a dog crate, we created the same concept in the coop to make cleaning easy.

IMG_2608

Due to our semi-rural location, we do have predators like skunks, fox, and snakes. EEK! To add extra layers of protection, we added tiny wire fencing around the entirety of the pen/coop about 2 feet high to make getting in extremely hard and our chickens can’t quite poke their heads out. The whole structure is also sitting on 4x4s to deter diggers from getting under the fencing. Essentially- Predator proof.

The girls will finally be getting to move into their new home by the end of the week! Now that they have had a solid 2 weeks or so under the lamp, they have grown almost double since we got them and my 2 blondies are going red!

THE BABY CHICKENS!

Eric’s grandparents at one point and time had a full working farm. Horses, cows, chickens, ducks, turkeys, crops- the whole nine yards. Now that they have gotten up there in age they have chickens, turkeys, and keep smaller gardens. While over helping them a few weeks ago Eric decided that he too wanted a few chickens. He and his roommate decimate eggs like they’re the only food on Earth most weeks. Even though his grandparents supply us with eggs most of the year, he wanted a few of his own. Admittedly, I did too!

After a few phone calls to friends and relatives with chickens and some serious research we picked a breed- Rhode Island Reds. This also happens to be the same breed his grandparents and most of our friends and other relatives have as well. They are supposed to be great layers and have generally good dispositions.

A few more phone calls later, Eric and I found ourselves at Pickering Valley Farm and Feed. This happens to be a pretty cool pet store. We left the store with 4 little pullets. A pullet is not quite a baby chick but it is also not of egg laying age/adulthood. They are like teenagerish. They’re a little more than a month old, which means they still need to hang out under the heat lamp most of the time.

They’re also adorable.

get-attachment-3.aspx get-attachment.aspx

We haven’t named them yet because we just can’t decide. It was easier deciding on names for our non-existent children.

We are currently feeding them special not-quite-chick-but-not-quite-adult food for now. My goal is to make homemade feed for them in the coming months, especially when winter comes knocking again.

If you are considering getting chickens or already have some and are always looking for places to get good info, check out Back Yard Chickens. They were invaluable while researching breeds, feed, coops, how to raise them, health issues etc. It’s like the chicken Bible.

Stay tuned to see pictures of our coop and how we did it.

And because they’re so cute….a few more pics!

get-attachment-1.aspx get-attachment-2.aspx get-attachment.aspx