More Weekend Fun

David was already over at the neighbors feeding the animals by the time I woke up Sunday morning. Here are pictures that he took:

A couple with the girls with the flowers growing in front of our house. All the flowers are blooming in the beds in front of the house and look so nice right now.

This is Ginger, the neighbor's horse.

We went for a walk around the hayfield and picked some more blackberries on the way home. This is a picture of the girls by the neighbors cow pasture.

Our neighbors processed a bunch of chickens yesterday and brought us a fresh chicken as a thank you for taking care of their dogs while they were gone. I was pretty excited as I have read that a fresh chicken is just so much better than what you get at the store. But we were disappointed - it really wasn't that good. So that has eliminated the desire to buy chicks to raise for meat. We'll stick to our frozen chicken breast from Costco!

We went to the fireworks in Indianola last night - another great show. Our weather has cooled off and the blanket we brought for the kids to sit on became the blanket to snuggle under when the sun went down. What a change from the fourth of July fireworks in Glendale where we wouldn't even come out of the air conditioned house until we heard the fireworks starting!

We went earlier than last year because several of our playgroup families were there so the girls had friends to dance and play with (live 50's band music) until the fireworks. At one point we had 8 or 9 giggling girls on our blanket. (our group is heavy on the girls!) A fun time.

 Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow

A good morning from Randy Rooster. :)

Last year I planted a small patch of mixed flower seeds. It didn't go so well as it was hard to weed when you don't know what's a weed and what's a flower. So this year, this flower grew up in front of that bedding area and I didn't pull it as it definitely looked like a flower. Lo and behold, it has indeed bloomed. Anyone know what it is?? (seriously, I have no clue)

Here are some shots of Angelina walking on the boards holding down our weed suppressing bags. We finally got it all weed whacked down and with help from the girls, laid down all the bags from our corn purchases over the winter. They are great, heavy duty bags and originally I planned on covering them with free mulch like we got last year. But, unfortunately, they are not giving away free mulch this year....bummer! So I will be raking up our grass clippings to bury the bags. That will be softer than wood chips anyway, so no big deal. It is a lot of work raking an acre lawn, but heck, the free mulch was a lot of work to load up too!

Now, a few shots of the garden progress. You could really take pictures daily, it is growing so much now that we finally got some heat! All of my squash varieties have little baby veggies starting to grow and I found my first miniscule tomato while pinching suckers out today. Soon we should be feasting! (assuming I can keep ahead of the pests!)

So, have I mentioned lately how much I love square foot gardening? I sooooooooo love it.

Here is part of bed 1: The only thing not labeled is the square of thyme which is just below the basil, but the plants are so little, you can't see them in the photos.

Full shot of bed 1:

Half of bed 2:

The other half of bed 2:

Random shot of Angelina walking back to the house.

This section by the retaining wall was always full of weeds. Our neighbors gave us a bunch of daisies since they were thinning out an overgrown bed - the perfect solution! They filled in nicely and look much nicer than the weedy mess there before. :)

I was telling Trinity to say all sorts of silly things rather than cheese (ex: "say Rumplefuzzybutt") It worked - I got big smiles. :)

We have just been so busy lately - gardening, playgroup, catching lightning bugs, (i.e. Angelina -
"Mom hold my jar, I have to catch more night lights!") picking wild blackberries, walking the neighbors dogs, feeding cabbage worms and squash borers to the chickens, finding snakes and bird eggs and funky fuzzy caterpillers and deer beds. Life is abundant in the countryside and God is so good to allow us to enjoy his creation.

Today Angelina was so tired she fell asleep on the potty! (sorry, camera batteries were dead so only got a pic on my cell phone) But here is one where she fell asleep on the back porch table.

 Busy Slow Lane Living!

Well, for living in the slow lane, life sure has been interesting around here.

Thursday: We set up the pool we bought for the kids - a gift from Grandma Barbara - thanks Grandma! The kids loved playing in the pool.

Also Thursday, our neighbors had a cow escape so we almost had an uninvited visitor in our backyard. Fortunately, he respected our fence (which would have easily bent over under his weight) and went around our yard and not in it. I guess he ended up going up to the cow field just across the street from us and joined in with their cows. That actually made it easier for them to finally catch him.

Friday: Since visiting the farm, I have been letting the chickens out in the backyard all day long to forage. But Friday I noticed that we were missing Bo Peep, our largest and friendliest Buff Orphington. The only thing I could think was that a red eagle must have snagged her because there was no sign of her anywhere. This is Bo Peep by Trinity in the picture.

Saturday: I went and picked up a bunch of tomato plants being given away on Freecycle. So I spent the day digging a new garden bed. We were planning on expanding the garden area anyway, so this kicked me into full gear. The kids had a great time just playing in the yard while I worked digging. They did come by and collect grub and worms to go feed the chickens. (which were locked back up in their run since the disappearance of Bo Peep) They also helped me plant the tomatoes once the bed was ready. I ended up moving my two tomato plants out of our raised beds into the new tomato bed so we have 30 tomato plants growing now. I also had room at the end of the bed to add another zucchini plant.

Sunday: We have been going to yet another new church for 2 weeks and are really excited about it as it reminds us so much of Calvary back in Phoenix. They have 3 services on Sunday morning and boatloads of small groups meeting during them all so you can find a group that you fit with. We had tried a group that is all families with kids. (started out being preschoolers, but they have been meeting for 10 years so now there are all age kids!) We really enjoyed the bible study and met up with several families last Sunday night for a great time of fun and fellowship. We were really looking forward to going back to the group this Sunday. BUT, David woke up with a 103 degree fever and Trinity woke up with a bad case of poison ivy, the worst of it being on her face, which was really swollen. I left Angelina with David and spent the morning with Trinity at urgent care. Then we went to Walmart and got Poison Ivy killer.

When I got back with Trinity, it was already noon. We went out to hunt down the poison ivy on our property and found some on the north side of the barn, and some growing on the back fence near where we are expanding the garden. I believe that was probably where Trinity got into it. David said it looked like we were missing another chicken. I freaked out....what?!? Now I have been very careful about letting them out only when I could keep an eye on them and had been counting them when I put them up at night. But David had locked them up Saturday night so it was possible they were one short when they got put up - but what are the odds of having 2 air lifted out of our yard? So after counting only 6 in the run, I went into the coop to make sure it wasn't in there somewhere. Well, I found her alright, dead and partially eaten. We were trying to figure out how a critter could have got inside and killer her. The only opening in was through an opening up to the hayloft. David went up in the hayloft and discovered the remains of Bo Peep up there.

So now the mystery was solved. No eagles involved here - just a raccon that somehow has found a way to climb into our hayloft and down into our coop. (there were raccoon tracks in the dust to confirm the species of predator) We talked with our neighbors and they have been having problems with a raccoon getting into the cat food stored in a bench on their front porch. They have borrowed a trap and are hoping to catch it, but it is difficult to find a bait that will attract the raccoon but not the cats!

Anyway, Sunday afternoon became raccoon proofing the coop. Once a predator knows where they can find them, they will keep coming back until the chickens are gone or we have eliminated any possible entry point. We sealed up the hole down into the coop with hardware cloth, and attached a longer string on the light up in the hayloft so we can turn it on and off from down below. This is because I have heard that leaving on lights or a radio can help keep nocturnal critters away. We had set up a window covered with hardware cloth on a pulley system which is how we had opened and closed the coop for the chickens. But I figure it would be easy enough for a raccoon to lift that window. So now every night we close up a hardware screen over the pophole from the run side as well (that's 2 closures over the pophole!) and take down the ladder in the run that the chickens use for going in and out. Cluckville has been turned into Fort Knox!

We found some old sparklers and fireworks in the pantry. So after dark, we sat out back and dad shot off the big fireworks while the kids got to do the sparklers. Lots of fun and of course they wanted to do more.

Monday: I got up with the girls and let David sleep in . When I opened the front door, there was a deer just across the street in the corn field. We watched the deer until it went too far away to see well. Then the girls and I went out to let out the chickens - all present and accounted for!

There were rain clouds on the horizon, so I grabbed the shovel and started working on another garden bed to put in corn. I had about 2 shovel fulls left to dig when the rain started. We ran inside for breakfast and a game of CandyLand with David, who woke up feeling much better today - thank you God!

We ended up getting our corn planted in the evening and I put in a bed of carrots and planted two New Mexico Green Chile plants that David picked up at the store. We had gone hunting for seed potatoes so we can grow a late crop for winter storage, but couldn't find any. I think I am just going to give it a try with potatoes from our own pantry. They are always growing roots if they don't get eaten soon enough, so I don't see why they wouldn't work. I also planted another square in the raised beds with cabbage and if it stops raining long enough today, I will be putting in a whole bed of cabbage. (only have 2 plants in the raised beds)
So here is an inventory of what is in our garden so far this year:
Mesclun mix lettuce
Green peppers
Garlic chives
Acorn squash
Pole beans (green beans for you non-gardeners)
Spaghetti squash
Yellow Squash
Red onions
Lima beans
Green Chile
Potatoes, still to be planted
I also have planted zinnias and marigold for pest control and will be trying to get some annuals going as well. David bought me some petunias, so that will give me a little color while I try to get my little seedlings growing.
Trinity out by the strawberry bed.

Our sleepy angel - tired from playing hard!

From mother's day - David took the girls to the lake to feed the ducks.