Friday, May 29, 2009

Update: Rant deleted

I deleted my rant. It appears to have served its purpose. I was able vent and to not-so-subtely reiterate my position on certain family matters. But as Sunny pointed out last night...It was jamming the vibe of the blog. I agree. Now, it's onwards and upwards. BTW, I'm brewing a huge batch this weekend for the BBQ cook-off and beer tasting at Taryn's on June 20th..it's going to be a blast!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And the circle of life begins again...


We finally *finished* (a relative term) planting the family garden on Sunday, and had nice BBQ to top things off. As I have mentioned before, Sunny and I have a family garden with her siblings and all our kids at her Dad's place and we also have one of our own at home. (So it seems, we never really stop planting). In fact, we are starting to plant our home garden today.

This year is going to be crazy, though, because we decided to double the size of the family garden, and we added a couple of raised beds, too. Man, we have some crops this year.
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We have two types of corn, three types of potatoes, two types of onions, cantaloupe, watermelons, baby corn, three varieties of cucumbers, four types of tomatoes, four types of peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, three types of carrots, three types of beans, two varieties of peas, all kinds of salad greens and herbs, celery, okra, radishes, strawberries and one giant pumpkin plant. I'm probably forgetting a few things as well.

The greenhouse was another addition this year, and it saved us a lot of money in plants. We did everything from seed this year except for the strawberries. We also plan to try some cold weather crops in the greenhouse over the winter to minimize the heating costs. Heating a greenhouse can get spendy.

It's funny how gardening can really grow into a year-round thing. Last winter, we took a few classes on greenhouse gardening and we plan to take more classes on propagating plants this fall. NIC has a very nice series of gardening classes for those who are interested.

Sunny is also talking about putting in cold frames in the home garden to extend our growing season there as well. With all the canning we have ahead of us this summer and fall, we may have to construct cold frames in the garage this winter.

And just about the time we finish that, it'll be time to order seeds again and start the whole cycle over again. Maybe that's just how this circle of life thing is supposed to work, huh?
BTW, that contraption at the top of this post in another antique garden tool that Sunny's dad has kept up over the years. It has been modernized with a BMX tire, but if I recall correctly, it used to have a metal wheel on it. It's a cultivator and works like a charm when it comes to weeding the rows. If you double click the picture, you see that is has a row of tines in the back that till up the soil and uproot the weeds.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New beer study has surprising results


Ok, I just had to share this with everyone. If you cannot the read the newsprint double click the picture and it will open larger in a new window.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Catching a Buzz...

video

I don't recall ever seeing anything like this before. There are literally thousands of honey bees swarming the cherry tree in our backyard today. The buzzing sound of little bee wings was so loud, I heard them inside the house when I was getting out of the shower this morning. Turn up your sound and hit play. (There is a little wind noise toward the middle, but you get the picture).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My kids rock...


My oldest daughter, (I'll call her Honey Bee), doodled this logo for the blog. I need to do a higher quality scan job, but I had soon-to-be, son-in-law quick scan it so I could brag a little about the kids. Somewhere along the line Sunny and I did something right. We have four spectacular and talented children.

The Bee is a tremendous artist, writer, poet, singer, scrap-booker and mother. She is 23 now and I couldn't be more proud of her. She is making a pretty good living and is re-contemplating school now that the kids are a little older. She will go far in life. She almost won Taryn's Karaoke Idol contest one year, but Jesse Tinsley took the title. The Bee got a well deserved second place.
You know what amazes me is that all of my children are talented in the arts. Sure I have my talents, and so does Sunny. but our kids seem to excel in areas that neither of us really did.

My second oldest, (I'll call her Ty), blew us away when she decided to take debate in 8th grade and won a state title. She wasn't even supposed to compete in her grade level, but blew past even the older competitors. She is a dynamic public speaker. That experience motivated her to run for school office and she won every campaign she started. She even beat out a senior for all-school president when she was junior and then took the all-school presidency again in her senior year, which earned her a scholarship at NIC, where she is about to graduate with an AA in business. She wants to open her own hair salon (which she is also excellent at). We have no doubt she will figure out a way to pull that off.
Her brother, and my third oldest, is a scrapping 6-foot-four with one of the biggest hearts I know. He is a great artist as well. He also taught himself how to play guitar and the harmonica. I am blown away by his sense of responsibility and maturity. At his age, 18, you don't see those qualities much these days. How many young men do you know who would drop everything to go help a neighbor shovel a couple of piles of gravel, or swing by his grandpa's house to make sure he's doing Ok?
And our youngest daughter, Daisy Girl, is showing some of the same traits as her siblings -- especially in art, public speaking, music and photography. She is also in volunteering her time, and has a dream to one day help an African community with clean water technologies.
Sunny and I are blessed, I tell you. I can remember thinking that if my kids are only half the trouble I was as a kid, I'd consider myself a success. So far, I am successful beyond all of my expectations. It kind of like Owen Wilson's line in Marley and Me: " I just keep on surprising myself..."
Back to the graphic. I'll have to rework the site soon and incorporate that into the design. I'll also get on that blog role.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

We're almost all in...

We spent the better part of Saturday planting "Our Family Garden." We have almost everything in as far as seeds go. But all our starts are still waiting patiently in greenhouse for Old Man Frost to call it a season.

So far, we have put in the corn, carrots, peas, beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, onions, beets, radishes, and the strawberry plants. The onions are starting to shoot up new greens, and the potatoes were just beginning to peak out of the soil yesterday.

We have hundreds starts in the greenhouse, and it's getting crowed in there. I should have shot a picture yesterday. We have broccoli, cauliflower, celery, several tomato varieties, a couple of different cucumbers, and several varieties of peppers.

Oh, and we are going to try baby corn this year. It is supposed to be a fast crop, but a touchy one. You have to keep it far enough away from your other corn to prevent cross-pollination. We put ours about 40 feet apart.

We are also trying the square-foot gardening method with two raised beds this year. It is a interesting concept for growing more crops in a small places. Check out the web site: http://www.squarefootgardening.com/ We bought the book and it is a great read -- especially if you have limited space to work with. I'll get some pictures and blog about that next time.

BTW, as I said in an earlier post, Sunny's dad has a collection of weird farming and gardening tools. Like the one that I posted at the top of this thread. That is a corn seeder. You fill the cylinder with corn, and sink the planter into the soil. Then push the handle toward the foot and mechanism inside the cylinder (similar to a gumball machine) dispenses two or three kernels of corn into your hole. It is a pretty nifty machine when you have a lot seed to plant. We put in ten rows this year. Anyone want to guess how old that is?