In pursuit of many interests.

We’ve had a busy couple of months.  In January I took on the role of Vice-Chair of the Green County Democratic Party, and have LOTS to learn.  I’m enjoying the challenge but it has taken some of my time from things like perusing Facebook and posting to our blog.

It hasn’t been all politics these last few months.  We recently attended a model train show for information regarding a garden train set up.  Rod would like to run one around the perennial bed in front of the house.  We picked up lots of ideas and a new toy.Train Set 1  He’s starting small and indoors.  The plan is to purchase enough track to eventually put my trunk back where it belongs and snake his “Broadway Express” around items that reside under our stairway.  In fact he has decided it would be fun to paint a sky complete with clouds and sun under the steps.Train Set 2

I had intended to share ideas on how to combat winter boredom in the chicken coop, but as I mentioned time got away from me.  One thing that helped our birds this winter was their sun room, which may not have been pretty but it sure did the trick.  On those bitter cold days (that were sunny) it was almost 40 degrees in that outdoor run.Once the snow was gone we were able to start pulling off the plastic walls and happy chickens began to venture.

  The girls also had a dirt box inside the coop this winter and LOVED it Bathing Box . . . after all who wants to go three or four months without a bath!!  To top off their spa like accommodations they are treated to a regular supply of fodder which is grown in our solarium.Growing fodder 1

Rod starts with a small amount of organic potting soilGrowing fodder 3 then sprinkles a liberal amount of pasture mix.Growing fodder 5

After about five days the trays on the heated mats have sproutedGrowing fodder 9, Growing fodder 10the ones without heat took another four to five days.

Even with all the nice sun and dome covers.Growing fodder 6

The chickens weren’t the only ones to receive fresh grown treats from winter gardening.  Rod potted a couple cherry tomato plants last fall and had success. wintered tomato 1wintered tomato 2 It may not have been a bumper crop, but we had enough for a nice salad and a few other mealswintered tomato 3

There was room in the pot of parsley that was brought in and we had lettuce seed left over.winter lettuce There isn’t much but it’s just right for sandwiches.  And just check out this snap dragon and pansy.wintered snaps wintered pansies

I’m so ready for SPRING!!

Good Friends and Fall Fishing.

After an incredibly busy spring and summer, it was time for our annual fishing trip.  Having missed our spring getaway we decided to leave a few days early and visit friends that now live in Michigan.  To save on some of the driving we took the car ferry across Lake Michigan.SS Badger

When we boarded the ferry it was quite foggy and the choppy water made for an unpleasant voyage for Rod.foggy departure1

It was about 7:30 once we got into port and they’d unloaded the truck from the ferry.arival in MI  After a couple more hours on the road we arrived at our friends house in the woods.  It had been a long day of travel, so it was nice to unwind with a cold beer and good company.  The next morning Don lead Rod and I on a leisurely walk in their woods while Michael made us a delicious breakfast.

We started the afternoon with a stop at the Grocer’s Daughter chocolate shop http://www.grocersdaughter.com/ where we purchased more chocolates adding to the collection we started at a popular old candy shop in Manitowoc.  After all who can resist really good chocolate?? 😉 Our next stop was Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore http://www.sleepingbeardunes.com/

An older gentleman offered to take a picture of the four of us.140911020

Pictures just can’t show how truly awesome these views are.140911015140911013

From the park we travelled north to Leland where we stopped at a coffee roaster.  Not only did we get a good cup of coffee, we purchased a pound of Jamaica Blue Mountain beans . . . oh so smooth, a real treat!!

In Leland we checked out Fishtown.  One of the only working commercial fishing villages in Michigan.  http://www.lelandmi.com/fishtown/

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140911029One of the old shanties housed an artisan tile maker.  Among the many beautiful tiles we found one for behind the stove.kitchen tile We will use fill in tiles from Habitat Re-Store to complete our hanging.  This should prove to be a fun winter project.

The next day we were shown a unique preservation of an old asylum http://www.thevillagetc.com/  It is quite an impressive undertaking.  On the grounds is a brick oven bakery, and Left Foot Charley Winery http://www.leftfootcharley.com/ along with many other little shops and businesses.  We end the day with some local pub fare and say our good-byes as we continue north getting a few more hours drive out of the way before crossing Mackinac Bridge the next morning.

Another full day of driving and we are at our cabin on Thousand Island Lake, one of 15 lakes on the Cisco Lake Chain which is located on the Wisconsin/Michigan border.  The resort we stay at is on the Upper Peninsula (UP) side.  Fishing this year was slow, but we did manage to catch enough to freeze a package.

We did a lot of driving this fall fishing trip, but it was worth seeing our good friends.  As we tap into our jug of Cinnamon Girl cider from Left Foot Charley’s – we think back on our short but fun visit with Don & Michael.

fire and cider 2

Here’s to good times with good friends!

Farm Fresh Strawberries . . . YUM!!

I picked up an obelisk planter a couple of years ago with the intention of planting hanging strawberries.  It is now in place and filled with plants I transferred from our previous house.Strawberry Tower & Patch  I doubt I’ll get any berries this year, so I was excited to see the ad in our local paper for berries picked per order.

The farmer’s son had just finished picking for the day so I was able to get a flat (6 quarts) of sweet juicy strawberries that afternoon.  A few didn’t make it home . . . a person gets hungry on those four mile drives! 🙂

The next morning I set out to freeze my berries.Processing fresh berries 1  My mother and grandmother would make jam out of half of the berries they collected during the season, the rest would be cut up and froze with a bit of sugar added.  I prefer the same method I use for blueberries, which is to freeze them whole without sugar.

Washed, cored, and run through the salad/berry spinner to get rid of excess moister, the berries are spread onto a cookie sheet for a trip to the freezer.Processing fresh berries 2

Once they’ve hardened (takes about three hours) it’s time to bag them up.  I prefer this method since it allows me to take out the number of berries I need without thawing an entire bag.Processing fresh berries 3

My dear friend Kathy turned me onto this handy little bag holder.  It has a suction cup on the bottom and easily adjusts for gallon size bags.  Processing fresh berries 4

Five quarts out of six for the freezer.Processing fresh berries 5 Half of that sixth quart is still in the fridge, I doubt it will last the day.  The other half . . . well a person gets hungry processing berries!  I think I’ll be making another call to our local farmer.  Although that can wait until tomorrow.

For now, I think I’ll take a break in our newly assembled screen house and ponder what to plant next in the kitchen garden.Patio Screen House

 

 

It started with an old tractor.

Last year we began the process of acquiring our farm implements.  First up was the tractor with a bucket.  Rod found a used 1957 Ford 600 with only 1700 original hours.  It appeared to have been previously owned by a small municipality.

Rod's Baby

Rod’s Baby

This is just the right size tractor for our place.  Now we just needed the tiller, or so we thought.  Further research revealed the fact that this particular tractor was geared to high to pull a tiller.  Therefore, we began the search for additional attachments.

A drag was found less than 15 miles from home.  An older gentleman had a hobby of picking up old drags that needed a bit of work and selling them, lucky us!drag

It wasn’t long before we found someone that was selling a two bottom plow . . .two bottom plow

discand disc.

Now we have all the implements needed to work up the gardens.

Oh but wait!  Rod’s decided a new King Kutter single trench digger would sure be handy . . .trencherIt turns out this was just the ticket for digging the 30′ asparagus trenches.  Just goes to show, I should never question an old farm kid.  Although, it’s been awhile since he’s done field work,trench cutter error next time he may want to pull the trencher up before he sets out to do any digging!!

Now that we’re all set with the tractor and attachments, Rod has decided a tiller for the kitchen garden is needed.  That’s fine with me since the alternative is to work it up by hand, and we’re getting too old for that.  He found a nice used self propelled rear tine tiller.  We started it up to see how it did . . . the chickens thought it did a wonderful job of uncovering worms.rototiller  I’m not at all comfortable doing field work with the tractor, but I think I’ll do just fine with this tiller.