Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Garden beseiged with...snow!

Here we are at the end of April and last night it snowed again.  It's not an unexpected thing around here in Colorado.  It just puts a "damper" on your gardening.

I put out my pea seeds...for some reason I plant so late.  The snow always puts me off.  In Colorado, it seems we go from the end of winter to summer.  Spring is filled with snowstorms and hail storms and all that fun stuff and then BAM, it's summer.  It's a bit annoying, but we're making due.  My lettuce and spinach haven't sprouted yet (I probably wouldn't sprout either with this kind of weather).  Anyways, like I said with Easter, all of this will be gone by this afternoon.  We're due for some nice weather and the temps are going to warm up nicely for the latter part of this week.  My husband has been working so diligently on this backyard and rearranging our boxes and building some new ones.  I am excited for when August arrives because that's when the garden looks its best!

I will update with more photos once the backyard is semi-dry.  My husband is almost done!  I've also sown some mustard and collard greens (yummy) and am still sprouting things indoors under lights.  I need to start all my pumpkin and zucchini and squashes inside.

On the chick front, the little ladies are doing well!  They are growing like crazy!  My daughter's teacher actually bought chicks (since the incubator eggs did not hatch).  So my daughter brought home one more Buff Orpington.  That brings us up to nine I said, I think a few of the girls aren't actually girls, but we'll wait and see.

I hope your weather is nicer than mine.  I've been cruising the web and am living vicariously through your warm locations and wonderful gardens.  I wish you happy gardening!  Blessings!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Backyard Chickens

We now have our own little flock!
It is so exciting!  I have wanted chickens for years and here we have them.  We were going to get them from my daughter's enrichment program that she goes to one day a week.  They have been studying the life cycle of a chicken and had eggs in an incubator.  Unfortunately, there was a substitute one day and the incubator was left without electricity for a few hours.  Those poor babies aren't going to hatch.  We were so excited and couldn't take any more anticipation so on Good Friday I went and got eight little beauties.  (I love the little water use a mason jar that screws into the metal base...our little chick feeder is the same way.)

We can't get over how fast they are growing.  We have two Buff Orpingtons, two Barred Rocks, two black sex-linked crosses, and two reds (not Rhode Island, I just can't remember).  I have a keen sense that at least two of these fluffies are going to be roosters, so our flock will shrink, but we are so thrilled.

Everyday the children have been taking turns cleaning out their brooder and giving them fresh water twice a day.  My birthday is next month so I think my gift is going to be a lovely coop (I know I'm weird, but that's how I do things...I'd rather get something we can use!).

Look at the perfect wings already forming on the red to the right (that is Nugget, by the way).  Some names the kids picked out are Lazy, Daisy, Yolko, Sunshine, Mr. Feisty, Nugget, Friday, and Lily.  As a gardener, I'm excited about only one thing:  compost.  All that chicken poop is going to do wonders for my garden.  It's been my missing link because I've always had to buy fertilizer on top of the small amount of compost we make.  Not anymore!  These babies are just what we needed for this homestead!

Do you think she's happy???  My daughter and "Daisy."

Much is going on around here.  I hope you all are enjoying the tumultuous weather of spring. I hope we get some sun soon...I have lots of gardening to do!  Have a happy Monday, friends.  Blessings to you!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, Colorado Style!

This snow all started last night.  With a little sunshine, it will be gone, but only in Colorado can you have snow from Halloween to Easter (sometimes to Mother's Day).  I will be thankful for the moisture!

I hope you all have a blessed and precious Easter!!!  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fantastic Food Friday

Giant Family Cookie Covered in Strawberries

So I usually do frugal food Friday, but this recipe is slightly more expensive unless you can get the berries for a really good price or grow them yourself.  Then it would be a great deal, plus it looks like a million bucks.  I learned to make this through Pampered Chef years ago and have made many adaptations to it since then.  The first thing you need to do is mix up a batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies.  We all have our own recipe so I'm foregoing that step here.  Instead of making individual cookies, make one massive cookie.  If your cookie tray is rectangular, make it that shape.  Sometimes I use my stones and make a circle cookie.  Just remember that the cookie dough expands in the oven and you don't want any going off the sides of your tray into the hot oven so adjust the amount of dough.

Once baked and cooled, you can start with all your other ingredients and prep everything for assembly.  You will need:
1.  one package of cream cheese, softened
2.  one large bottle of marshmallow fluff
3.  one pound of strawberries, sliced
4.  half a package of chocolate chips, melted

Mix the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff.  This is your first layer.  Cover your cookie with it and spread generously.  Now arrange your strawberries over the whole thing.  Once finished with that, drizzle your melted chocolate over the whole thing making a pleasant pattern.  You can get creative and add all kinds of other things:  nuts of any variety, any type of chopped up chocolate bar, m&ms, etc.  The combinations are endless!

Hope you have fun with this!  It will feed a big crowd and would be a wonderful treat for Easter!  With that said, I hope you have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Suburban Backyard Garden

Hello, friends.  We just got our computer back last night and I'm sooooo thrilled.  Now I can get back to my blogging.  Our backyard is undergoing a huge transformation.  We have raised beds, but after seeing a picture in a magazine I have gone mad and want to do something similar.  So my dear husband had to take some boxes apart and rearrange them and dig through some hard compounded ground, but progress is being made!

What you see going down the middle is going to be mirrored on the left side of it.  There will be an "alleyway" going down the center.  Out of the boxes we will have two long wooden poles of some sort (at least 8 feet long) that will all meet down the middle forming a very simple archway.  I'll be growing beans or anything else that vines.  Sun will still get through because it won't be solid.  They'll just grow up the poles.  We still have lots to do.  I will get all my greens seeded today.  As progress continues to be made I'll post more pics. 

To the right of the arbor is where we will be putting the chicken coop and run.  We are so excited to have chickens!  My daughter was getting them from her classroom.  We were hoping to have them by now but we've learned that the substitute teacher had the incubator off for two hours...sad, sad, sad.  We're not sure if we'll be getting chicks from them now.  We had our brooder all set up for them, too.  Thankfully, we literally live down the street from a feed store and I'm going to get some surprise chicks for Easter! 

Just to the right of the picture (not shown) we will be putting in a fire pit.  My husband has always wanted one so we're going to do it!  That's going to make for some fun evenings!

To the left of this picture is our swingset and the place I hang my laundry.

Because of my limited space, I hang everything on hangers.  I can put up twice the amount of laundry on these lines by doing so (at least two loads).  There are two things we have on this little suburban homestead that we can always count on:  sun and wind!  It makes for very speedy line drying!  Speaking of which, I have some loads of laundry to do. 

Many blessings to you and I look forward to seeing how your plots are shaping up!!!  Happy spring planting!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When the children start to grow up...

I am here at the library as we are still under hostage to our hijacked computer.  I am blessed that we have such a wonderful library system where we can use the computers.  I just can't really upload any pictures which is a bummer because I love posting them for you.  It will probably be another week before I can post pics.

Until then, another reason I am at the library is that my daughter started working here at the little coffee shop in the library.  She got the job literally by the hand of God.  She didn't apply here although she applied at several other places.  We saw a friend that we hadn't seen in years and just started chatting it up in front of this coffee shop.  The lady in the coffee shop kept staring at us.  Well, turns out, the coffee shop owner is the neighbor of this friend I hadn't seen in years and wanted to hire my daughter.  How amazing is that?!!!  She got the job and has started working. 

Her first full day of training went quite miserably.  This little coffee shop has no drain so there is a portable tank that must be dumped out periodically in a separate location.  Well, the tank overflowed and her shoes and bottom of her pants were soaked, she had to dry mop it by hand and it just was so much information for her to take in during an intense eight hour training session.  As I took her home she was crying.

Have you ever noticed the moment your children actually started growing up?  It was during these moments that I realized that my daughter is truly embarking into adulthood.  She is 16 and I know that there are things that I won't be able to do for her or help her with.  She has her own battles to win and I have had to tell her on more than one occasion that she has a voice.  Yes, my daughter, you were blessed with a voice to ask questions with and advocate for will not always be around.  It's so hard yet necessary and scary all at the same time.  I know that I am going through some growing pains because I am being prepared for my children to grow up.  One day, my daughter may end up going to study in London...Lord, help me.  But I know that I am my children's biggest cheerleader and I am here to help guide their way until they can fly on their own.  That's the whold purpose of raising your children.  To prepare them...and along the way, we mothers are getting prepared for when the babies leave the nest and can take on the world as we have taught them.  It's bittersweet.  It's also exciting because the future holds so many rewarding moments that will reflect everything from the past.  She's learning.  I'm learning.  We are learning things together.  I pray that in all this, that I am preparing her well and that she will be ready.  It's all we can do:  pray and lead. 

I hope you had a beautiful weekend.  I am looking forward to getting my revamped machine so I can do more food and garden posts.  Until then, blessings to you!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garden clean-up and technical difficulties...

It finally feels like spring...we cleaned out the garden last week and it's just itching to be planted!!!  I'm no fool, though, because the weather can change 50 degrees in one day.  I still have seedlings and can't wait for them to be planted.  We've decided to do some major rearranging of our boxes we've set up.  I'm very excited and can't wait to show you the before and afters!

Another exciting development-- we will be getting our chicks next week!  It's been my desire for a very long time to have backyard suburban chickens and we are getting them for FREE from my daughter's enrichment program...we can have up to ten birds (no roosters).  I can't wait for all that wonderful fertilizer for my garden.  I have much to do until we get them...

Which leads me to my next computer is having much technical difficulties and so I am here at our favorite place, the library.  As soon as I can get back online again, I will post pics and update you on the chicks.  Hopefully, we should have a handful by Tuesday.  I look forward to blogging all about the fluffy little guys and our adventures of keeping them away from our two cats, plus we will have to eventually devise some kind of impenetrable fortress in the backyard due to the cunning antics of the neighborhood foxes, not to mention all the prairie falcons and massive owl who lives near us.  It will be an experience! 

I hope you are having a great week!  Blessings to you and may you have a wonderful weekend at your homestead!