Apr 7, 2015

Easter


I can't say I'm sad to see this past Easter Weekend end. It wasn't the best, though it ended Monday morning on a high. Don't get me wrong - I was thrilled that my parents were able to fly in for a visit but...


Let's just start at the beginning. Which was Friday. Cameron and I both took the day off, since we don't have any big vacation plans this year. My parents had gotten in on Thursday but were up in Chico taking care of some things with a rental house they own up there. It seemed Cameron and I spent the morning of Friday driving around.



First, we took the girls to school. Back at home we prepped the garage for the arrival of our chicks & baby turkeys. 


Within an hour, we were back at the girls' school to attend the Eggstravaganza events in Sydney's class, which basically was just a little Easter Egg hunt. But Sydney did look adorable in her bunny ears. 


We had just under an hour to kill before London's class would take part in the Easter Egg hunt, so we ran over to Raley's to get all our grocery shopping completed. And back at the daycare, we watched as London ran around the playground picking up a total of 10 eggs. She actually did fairly well, given last year she really didn't grasp the whole "egg hunt" thing. What a difference a year makes!


And we stuck around to watch as London got to hand out the treats we had made for her class the night before: Crispy Egg Treats - The Pioneer Woman's Easter Special from the previous weekend inspired up. And the treats were a hit with all the kids. Plus, London loved getting to hand them out. 





On the way home, we finally picked up our chicks and turkeys. Back at home we got them settled into their new digs quickly. They are pretty cute, right now, though we find it funny that when we turn the main garage light out at night they suddenly get all up in arms and noisy. We've decided that they'rre either scared of the dark or forget to eat until they can't see the food. Either way, each time they have done this, we have gone out to turn the light back on for an additional 15 minutes before turning it back out. This seems to help. I know, odd, huh?



The rest of Friday was spent at Costco or in the yard. And all the while we were in the yard, Sophie was right next to us, which is normal. 


Saturday, we got up and headed out to another Easter Egg hunt, this one put on by the Roseville Active 20-30 club. But not before we rushed around searching for Cameron's wallet. I ended up driving since we couldn't find it in time. I'd end up finding it under a box of protein shakes minutes after we got home. 


Cameron helped Sydney during her egg hunt, while my parents and I cheered London on at hers. London, again, did a lot better than she did last year. At one point, she started to run to pick up some eggs, and accidentally dumped almost all the eggs currently in her basket. She didn't hesitate and quickly picked them up. And I was very proud when London stopped as soon as her basket was full, even though there were some eggs still needing to be picked up. 


Sydney successfully filled up 1/2 of her basket too. This egg hunt took all of 5 minutes so we were home fairly quickly. 


The rest of the day was uneventful. My parents spent time with the girls while Cameron and I did more yardwork and I made a carrot cake for Sunday. What was missing on Saturday was Sophie. When we're outside this much, she usually shows up within an hour or so and hangs out until we go inside. We didn't see her all day and by that night, we were worried. 


London woke up to Easter Sunday to discover that the Easter Bunny had arrived - quite to her amazement! She was so excited. And the Easter Bunny was pretty smart in leaving the baskets up on the mantel so mom and dad could sleep in without worrying about London and Sydney getting into the treats. The girls loved the mix of treats, bubbles, coloring books, new crayons and gardening tools. We told them they could pick out some seeds the next time we were at Home Depot or a nursery. 

Other than that, we did our usual homemade pizza. Cameron had to attend a meeting up in Chico in the evening, so Easter dinner became Easter Lunch. I also made a crustless Quiche Lorraine for us adults for breakfast that morning, making this a new tradition for us (it's the second year I've done Quiche Lorraine for Easter breakfast). 

And my dad made the girls "Bunny Butt" pancakes, which they got a kick out of - London even almost finished hers! Before lunch, we even squeezed in some Easter Egg dying with the girls. All the while searching for the keys to our truck, which had now gone missing. We were also searching for Sophie again, as she was no where to be found, again. 



By Sunday evening, with Cameron back at home, we were emotionally drained. Frustrated by the missing keys and beyond upset about Sophie, we didn't do much that evening. Sydney was pretty tired so she went to bed early. Luckily, just as my parents headed out the door to go back to their hotel, my mom found the truck keys in her purse! None of us know how they wound up there, but we're glad they were found before we spent a couple hundred dollars to have the dealer make new ones or before my parents had flown home (especially as we will likely be replacing this truck later this year). We will be going to Home Depot soon to get a spare key made - we've never had two sets as we got the truck used and they only provided us with one set of keys at purchase. 


But still no Sophie. We were truly worried something bad had happened to her. Yes, she's a barn cat but she also sticks to routine. And we've never gone a full day without seeing her. By this point, I was online reviewing "found cats" by the local shelters and discovering I could fill out a profile to receive emails from the local shelters of matching profiles. I quickly filled out the form, submitted and verified our "lost cat" profile. We were truly worried something bad had happened to her. Yes, she's a barn cat but she also sticks to routine. And we've never gone a full day without seeing her. 

Then came yesterday morning. I was dreading the walk to the car, knowing the girls would be asking where Sophie was - she is almost always there to greet us on weekday mornings as we head out for school and work. We'd tried not to let on to the girls that we were worried about Sophie all weekend. And just as expected, London & Sydney asked where she was as we walked to the car. London must have overheard us talking about her over the weekend too, as she asked "is she dead?" 

But just as I opened the car door for Sydney, London turned and looked toward the garden and said "oh no, she's right there." And there she was, trotting over to all of us like it was no big deal. Cameron and I rushed over to greet and love her. Seeing her made up for all the frustrations and emotions of the weekend.

Of course, I made it all the way to work before I realized I'd left my work laptop at home. And we forgot to take the garbage and recycle bins down to the curb in time for the recycle pick up - and those bins are full! Did I mention the tab on my soup can for Monday lunch broke so I couldn't eat it? Oh well, all of this is minimal now that our Sophie is back. That is all that matters. 

Oh, and honey (cause I know you will be reading this), painting & decorating the front hall entrance just moved up on the priority list. While you work to complete the coop, you can be sure I'll finish the Kitchen Deep Clean this week so that I can turn my attention toward the entrance to ensure you have a standard place to put your wallet, phone and sunglasses down on and we'll be moving the key holder so you can put the keys where they belong when you get home before walking into the main part of the house. That will be good for me too - that way keys don't disappear into the depths of my purse like they often do. 

Apr 2, 2015

Chicken Coop & Arbor Update



The chicken coop is coming along quickly. While it may not appear that much has been done based on this photo, I can tell you Cameron spent all weekend working on the coop. He installed the roof which was a big undertaking. We wanted to ensure it was a good roof, so he roofed it like you would roof a house. Now he gets to put up the floor joists and start enclosing it while building the roosting nests. I'll be painting it before we know it! Which is good since the girls and Turkeys come home today! I'll make sure to post pics next week. 


We also got the arbor installed in our front yard. Plus, Cameron used a couple days last week to get the irrigation started in the front yard so I don't have to water it by watering can much longer. We have also decided to grow red grapes on the arbor. Of course, we're a little late to get some bare roots from Home Depot, etc. But we may make a trip to a local nursery that we know will have older, more established grapes available. 


Speaking of the front yard, we are eyeing the Foxgloves that Costco is offering right now. We may come home with a few to go between the roses and the pomegranate tree. And once the irrigation is all in, we'll be covering all the dirt with bark while we will line the edge with the same white rock we are installing in the pathway. Soon, we'll basically be able to say the front yard is complete - minus the addition of more plants as we find ones we like. We do know we'll be adding lavender - we're just waiting for Costco to come out with our favorite variety. And at some point I'll add lamb's ear as well. 


All in all, at least in the front and side yards, I finally feel like we are truly making this place our home and making it our own.

Mar 31, 2015

2015 Summer Garden

This year's garden is about 45' x 100'
Spring may have only started just over a week ago, but Cameron and I are fully involved with our SUMMER garden. We have been since mid-March. Almost everything is planted. All that is left to plant are the eggplants, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and banana peppers. Though, technically, all the peppers are planted - just inside in a seed starter tray. The peppers haven't sprouted just yet, but I may just decide to plant them outside this coming weekend any how. Depends on how warm it is. This past weekend we had temps up in the mid-80s, but I hear a cool down is coming. The eggplant will get planted in two weeks.

Popcorn & Corn is growing well already
A few things have changed since last year's garden. For one, the location is new. We moved the garden from behind our house with a secondary pumpkin garden to the left of the house, to having everything together to the right side of our house, just in front of the chicken coop. The garden is now twice as big as it was last year too, although when you factor in all the space the secondary pumpkin garden took last year, it actually may be a tad bit smaller. We changed location mainly because we lost the pumpkin garden space to our orchard. 

So are the Sunflowers
And we decided having it all together would help when it comes to maintenance like watering and weeding. Right now, I'm watering every other day and weeding 2-3 times a week, and every weekend day on top of that. I have about 3 rows to do a major weed attack on and then it just becomes maintenance weeding. Luckily, if it does get out of control again, Cameron left enough space between almost every row that he can drive the tractor through with a rake. 

And just recently, the snow and snap peas sprouted up

Also new this year, is my semi-reliance on technology. I found a website called SmartGardener that helps you plan out your garden and tells you when to plant. It was definitely a big help in figuring out how to layout the garden as it will suggest one once you have added all the plants you intend to plant into your garden list. The only thing I didn't like is that it made you make "planter boxes" and restricted where you could put plants based on that. An option for field dimensions would have worked better, so I did spend a bit of time using the info I got from SmartGardener and laying out my own garden plan in Microsoft Excel. 

This is the plan SmartGardener suggested - it only used about 1/2 of the area I said I had available

Here's the plan I created based on SmartGardener's plan. We added a lot more corn, sunflower and popcorn
What I do like about SmartGardener is all the info the site provides on a plant - when to start seeds indoors, when to transplant out or even, when to just plant outdoors. It also tells you how many seeds to plant in how large a space. Last year we planted 1 corn kernel seed every foot. SmartGardener has you plant 4 in one square foot. Some of the beans had 9 seeds in 1 square foot.  The program even tells you how many plants you need to feed your family based on it's size. SmartGardener also tells you how much water you should be giving each plant each week. Last year, I think we didn't give some plants enough water early on. While I'm not following the recommendations to a T, I do think my habit of watering every other day is helping. Corn, sunflowers and popcorn are all coming up already. I even noticed some of my yellow wax beans breaking the surface while I was weeding on Sunday. 

Green beans & yellow beans are on their way

And based on the info I have already learned this year from SmartGardener, I've got everything prepped and ready to go for 2016! I swear we always feel behind on getting our summer garden going each year - and that's with us starting it earlier and earlier each year. Maybe next year we'll feel we're on top of it.

Our Atlantic Giant Pumpkins, Marina pumpkins and Jack-o-lantern Pumpkins also sprouted in the last two days

And I'm never alone when I'm out watering, weeding or planting. Sophie is loving all the time we are spending outdoors. Did I mention if she has a mouse/rat/vole in her mouth (still alive) she won't hesitate to run over and greet you hello then re-catch the wounded animal and proceed to eat it?




Mar 26, 2015

Chicken Coop Update


The last two weekends we have been working very hard on two projects. I've been working on planting our summer garden. More to come on that next week. Cameron has been working on the chicken coop. 



And we purchased our chickens last week. As mentioned, we'll be getting 6 Ameracaunas, aka Easter eggers on April 2. We'll also be getting two turkeys! Cameron's already named them Thanksgiving and Christmas. 


The coop is coming along quite well and will be close to being finished even before the chicks arrive home. The spare month we will have will be used to get the coop painted. 


Two weekends ago Cameron got the main frame against the pen created and some posts cut to support the rest of the coop. 



During the week he was able to complete the 3 main wall frames, which he got up this past weekend, along with the back wall frame and got the plywood up on the roof. Of course, just as he was ready to lay the flashing, tar paper and shingles, a storm came in, dropping temperatures and threatening rain, which killed the momentum on Sunday. 



Luckily, we have nothing scheduled this next weekend and weather permitting, he'll be able to get the roof completed, build the nesting box and complete the enclosure to ready it for siding.

Cameron's done an amazing job at getting this job going and on track. I hope the chickens will enjoy their new home (and turkeys too). 

Mar 24, 2015

A Lesson in Paint

After Painting By Hand

Cameron and I still have the arbor we purchased for our wedding and got married under. That's quite an accomplishment since we have moved twice since we got married and had lived in one house we thought we would be in for quite sometime. 

Painted with Spray Paint
With the front yard re-do, we decided it was finally time to put the arbor outside as a permanent feature, in the front yard, over the path we are installing. 

The only problem was the arbor was in it's natural state and looked a little more aged than we preferred. We decided to paint it white before installing it. We figured a couple cans of spray paint would cover it well and make quick work of this task. 

Nope. 

The wood on the arbor was very dry in some areas. After 6 cans of spray paint, it still looked like areas only had primer on it. Plus, windy days had delayed painting on more than one occasion. The thought of having to purchase more spray paint and dealing with wind delays wasn't something we wanted to deal with any more, as the delays were also delaying our progress on the front yard. 

And then I cleared the space up in the garage with the intent to put baby chicks in there, but we had time before they would come home. So we moved the arbor back into the garage. And I broke out some exterior white paint we had purchased to paint the trim on our shed (which still needs to be painted). It took two coats but the arbor looks so much better. Cameron remarked how much better it looked after just the first coat.

We have since learned that sometimes the quick fix isn't always so quick. Next time, I may just op for real paint from the start, depending on what it is we're painting. We could have had this done and installed so much sooner. But the good news is we hope to complete the path and install the arbor this week as our outdoor, week project. 

An up close of only the spray paint - just not a clean look
Close up on real paint - so much better!