Thursday, May 18, 2017

Phyllis the Polish Crested

One of the new chickens is a Polish Crested.
She's basically crazy.
Because her feathers fall into her eyes, 
she can't see the best.
So if, say, you were crouched by the coop watching the chickens,
and this chicken came running over,
she'd suddenly freak out leaping and sqwaucking
because she didn't see you right away.
My mom named this particular chicken Phyllis Diller.
You might notice the resemblance. 
There's also the crazy factor.
Ms. Diller (the human) was known to be a little wacky.
I always loved Phyllis Diller, 
mostly because she was a guest on the greatest show that ever was:
Scooby-Doo.
The episode was titled: A Good Medium is Rare
and it's posted below if you'd like to watch.



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mulching: Before and After

 I've been waiting over a year to be able to
share before and after photos of the yard.
Finally, I have a mostly finished product!
This is the view from our back door looking down to the back of the property.
And this is the same view now.
 And another view closer to the garage.
 This is of course the view from the beck of the property
looking back towards the house.
 And the same view now.
 Close up of the old lilac bush that was outside the back door.
It was rotted and not in great shape.
And now it's gone.
The large area in the photo that doesn't have plants
is the future site of the water garden I plan to put in.
There will be a waterfall in the back right corner of the house.
I'm hoping to be able to do that late summer/early fall
if I'm lucky.
Another wider view of the area.
This is a shot of the side of the house
and the lovely yews.

Another yew full frontal.
And here we are yew free.
This was a really big transformation.
We went from the yews to yew stumps 
to nasty grass and weeds 
to this.
A photo of the area on the side towards the back.
The room with all the windows is the laundry/mud room.
And here is the little garden now.
There was a garden there originally,
but it was full of weeds and mint.
Mint is the devil.
DO NOT plant mint directly into your garden!
Trust me.

Another view of the yews from the front of the house.
And the new view.
I'm thinking of planting a climbing vine on the rain spout.
A clematis would look good there,
and it would give the garden some height.
We don't have a front yard at all- the porch touches the sidewalk,
so I need to make sure the areas I have close by really pop.
Here we have some random shots of the new gardens.
We will eventually replace the old nasty wire fence
with a privacy fence.
The rest of the yard will be picket fencing.
I originally stuck my grandson's playhouse in the garden
to take up space.
I've decided to leave it there for now.
I had the idea to use containers 
and let him plant some annuals to have around his house.
The garden angel that was once my grandmother's.
Now that everything has been weeded and mulched, 
and all the plants have been planted,
it's time to make a list of what plants I'd like to add.
I have another hydrangea that was part of my wedding decor to transplant, 
and I'd like to get a lace cap hydrangea too.
Big E wants a rhododendron,
and I've saved room along the side of the house for that.
I need some more milkweed,
and I also want
rudbeckia (brown eyed Susan),  lavendar,
phlox, columbine, hollyhocks, and some coreopsis-
plus whatever else I happen across that I like. 


















Monday, May 15, 2017

Mulching for Mother's Day

 So, I've been dying to get all the flower beds mulched
since last year.
Last year, we dug out a circle around the cherry tree and
gardens along the fence in the back yard.
We only managed to mulch the area around the tree last year.
This year, we dug out more garden area along the side of the house.
Since it was Mother's Day, 
I used it to my advantage and requested slave labor all day for mulching purposes.
 This was the first load of mulch.
We didn't just have mulching to do, 
that would have been easy.
We had to edge and pick up piles of weeds and grass
as we went.
We filled 10 large trash bags of yard waste when it was all said and done.
 In the end, it took 3 loads which equaled about 6-7 cubic yards of mulch.
Everything has been done except 
around the tree.
The transformation is amazing,
and I'll be blogging before and after photos soon.
I still have some areas to fill in with plants
(there's a list)
and hopefully later this summer or early fall
I'll be able to start on the water garden.
I guess now with all the weeding and mulching done,
I have to clean the house.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I Dig Perennials

A couple of weeks ago, my mom, Big E and I 
went to a family friend's house to snag some perennials.
Existing flower beds were going to be dug up
to make way for their awesome new barn.
And since I have tons of garden space to fill, 
I jumped at the chance to score free plants.
We might have gone a little overboard.
We had to stop because we ran out of room.
Granted, the photo shows plants for me and my mom, 
but the only room on the back seat is a small spot for my mom
on the passenger side.
I'm still planting stuff.
It's slow going when you need to weed before planting.
Hopefully I'll have some great photos of the garden beds once 
they're weeded and mulched!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Warning: Fowl Post

Spring has sprung,
and there's a whole bunch of new additions to the coop.
The fowl influx started on Easter with the purchase of 2 ducklings.
That's what happens when you have a grandkid.
On the right we have Scooby-Doo,
and on the left is Shaggy.
Shaggy was named something else by my son, 
but was renamed by the grandson.
This past Saturday I ventured out to the Poultry Swap
 to get some new pullets.
The grandson had some specific requests for new hens.
He wanted an orange chicken
and a green chicken.
He was happy to settle for one that laid green eggs 
after I explained there weren't any green chickens.
So I picked up a Buff Orpington that has been named Velma.
And I got an Easter Egger that has been named Fred
(I'm sure you can tell the grandson's current interest, 
though I'm a Scooby fan from way back).
Let's hope that Fred not only lays green eggs, 
but doesn't live up to the name and lays eggs period.
To finish my purchases, 
I picked up a pearl colored Cochin, a white crested black Polish
and 2 speckled sussex pullets.
AND....
a turkey.
This little guy is a Black Spanish heritage breed turkey.
It's one of the oldest turkey breeds and is in danger of disappearing.
So he will not be eaten.
Or she whatever it is.
Currently the turkey has no name,
but I'm sure I'll think of something eventually.
 So far, the lone hen I already had 
(named Donner because she's a cannibal)
is getting along with everyone.
There is some pecking going on,
but over all I think she's happy to have friends. 
Hopefully everyone will manage to got get eaten or pecked to death.





Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Rock Salad Garden

With the fabulous weather we've been having, 
Big E and I have been spending spare time doing things in the yard.
The latest task we tackled was cleaning up 
a garden area on the side of the garage.
It's been neglected for a while now,
and I think it is a good spot for a new garden 
for lettuces and kale.
It'll save on the grocery bill for tortoise food.
Not only was it full of weeds and nasty Bermuda grass, 
it also had 5 invasive tree species growing in it.
Apparently, this used to be a rock garden.
Or cement garden.
This is one of 2 piles of cement block that was dug up
and hauled out of the garden.
Once section actually had large pieces of flagstone in it
and resembled a chicken.
Big E wouldn't let me keep it.
 In the end, we got it all dug out, 
and it looks great. 
Again, hard to imagine that there was so much cement
in such a small area.
Not sure if I'm going to make a raised bed, 
or just use it as is.
Either way, I'm glad the area looks better, 
and I'm anxious to get the salad growing
for me and the tortoise.
(Though now we have to clean up the piles of crap we took out of it)



Friday, April 7, 2017

Monster Forsythia

Busy as usual.
Wednesday evening Big E and I worked on 
removing the forsythia shrubs at the back of the yard.
Forsythia are very misleading.
Like icebergs.
They look manageable enough, 
but underneath is this massive root ball leviathan.
Big E was convinced the easiest thing to do was sell the house
and buy one without forsythia shrubs that need removal.
Big E had attempted to use his saws-all to cut through the roots, 
but the roots just wore the teeth off the blade.
I made the suggestion that we dig around the shrub
and use loppers to cut roots as we go.
He scoffed at this idea.
I suggested using the chain to pull them out, 
so off I went to get the chain from my dad.
On the way back, this was the text I received:

I wanted to make sure that everyone saw the actual proof
that I was right..... again.
Anyway, we hitched up the chain
and popped the first stump out.
The second was a little different.
It took several tried before the thing even budged, 
but it the end it popped out too.
We had to remove the dirt from the root ball,
and when I jumped in the hole it was up past my knees.
Huge job accomplished,
now we need to get to work on the veggie garden.



Monday, April 3, 2017

Busy

This weekend was busy,but it was productive.
Saturday I had a dog adoption event
to take my foster dog to.
He was adopted, so he makes the 3rd foster dog we've successfully found a home for.
Later that day, I managed to get a little deep cleaning done,
well, basically just deep cleaning the couch.
I also needed to degrease a vent hood for the kitchen.
Our hood no longer works, so every time we cook, the smoke detector goes off.
Big E replaced someone's hood at a job,
and brought the old one home
(there was nothing wrong with it other than it didn't match the people's new appliances)
With some cleaning and some appliance paint,
 we plan on replacing our broken hood with this one. 
Later that day, we headed out to REI to spend a lot of money 
get some new backpacking gear,
and hit one of my favorite Italian restaurants.
Sunday brought some warm temperatures and sunshine,
and that meant outside work.
I painted the vent hood.
No photos though, besides, who really wants to see a bunch of photos 
of a vent hood?
I managed to get a lot of the weed piles bagged up out of the garden,
so now I'm ready to get the flower beds tilled and mulched.
We also finally got around to measuring and marking stuff for the new fence.
You'll notice my stellar handwriting ability using spray paint.
Must be from my tagging days in Baltimore.
Okay, I never tagged anything and I lived in the 'Burbs.
Still, it's obvious I'd have mad tagging skills. 
Hopefully we'll be able to get our permit and get started on the fence.
It sure will be nice to let the dogs out and not have to walk them on the leash!
The day ended with a 3 mile hike and some shrimp creole at my mom's house.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Getting the Car in the Garage

As I think it is with most garages, 
mine was a mess and a car wouldn't fit in it.
Some of the items- like the windows and new toilet and sink-
are there until they can be put in their new homes.
Other stuff was just tossed in there
(mostly by me I admit)
because I didn't know where else to put them.
So because we were in for a big snow storm, 
Big E and I decided to tackle the mess.
We needed to get things moved and organized 
so my car could fit in the garage in the event
the snow emergency went into effect.
The stack of wood on the right in the photo below
needed to get moved to the loft storage area.
Some of the plywood we were saving for various future projects
(like chicken coop repair/expansion),
and some pieces were slated for the burn pile.
We also wanted to get the counter tops in place
for Big E's work space.
We salvaged the cabinets from the old upstairs kitchen,
and moved them into the garage.
They'll make nice storage for Big E's tools,
and a nice area for him to get working on the projects I have for him.
The cabinets were all hung already
with the help of our friendly neighborhood Eagle Scout.
We just needed to move all the floor cabinets into place
and attached the counter.
We also saved the old "kitchen table" from the downstairs kitchen.
It was just a cabinet with a counter top.
We decided to use this as a little potting table for me and my plants, 
and a place to store all my gardening stuff.
For now, we used cinder blocks to raise it high enough to use, 
but Big E will eventually build a platform so the counter tops will be level.
For now the plywood for the new bathroom subfloor
and the items needed for the new bathroom
need to be pushed to one side, so it looks more cluttered than it is.
The area for my car was cleared out, 
and just in time as it snowed about 15 inches 2 days later.

I'm looking forward to getting all the tools moved to the garage 
to free up some space in the attic.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bathroom News

The Bathroom Fairy visited yesterday.
I know you can't really tell in the photo, 
but there is new plywood sublfloor
and the shower base is here.
Apparently, the floor is pretty uneven,
so it needs shims and new subfloor.
Pretty soon Big E will cut the drain hole for the shower,
and set up the parts for the shower faucets.
Once drains are in, 
I think drywall will go up quick and we'll have a finish bathroom in no time.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Lonely Only

This is Donner, the lone chicken in the coop.
She is the lone chicken because she ate one of her brooder mates, 
and my older chicken died.
Yes, she is named for the Donner Party,
the pioneer group who was forced to cannibalize members
 of their traveling party after getting trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
in winter in 1846.
I have no clue what breed of chicken she is, though I fear she may be 
a black sex-link chicken.
I had a sex link before who terrorized any new chickens that came to the coop.
She got eaten, and I wasn't sad.
The cannibalistic nature of Donner makes me concerned
since I'm hitting up the Poultry Swap in April to get new pullets.
I certainly don't want them to be Donner's dinner.
She might also be an Australorp which would be fine.
She was supposed to be a Dominique chicken
known for their black and white checkered feathers.
She's a little lonely right now being the only hen in the henhouse.
And being lonely makes her friendly.
To people anyway.
My grandson enjoyed giving her some attention
and petting her.
He even tried to take her in the house and in his mom's car
so she could live in his room.
Apparently he has a couch in his room she could sleep on.
Also, my grandson speaks chicken.
He told us she was talking and when asked what she said, 
he leaned down, listened and said "She say my name!"
He later explained that she said "Bawk bawk bawk" and that means "Xavier"
in chicken.
Looking forward to getting the coop spruced up this month,
and fixing some minor repairs
to prepare for the new hens.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Narnia Wardrobe

A while ago, 
Big E and I went to get the giant wardrobe
 from his sister's house.
Luckily the thing comes apart, 
otherwise we would never be able to get it into the upstairs of our house.
In pieces, it was easy to transport, 
and pretty easy to move upstairs.
Assembly was tricky.
We needed 3 people to start- 2 to hold each side
and the other to put in the bolts.
Lucky for us, 
we have an Eagle Scout across the street.
Once the sides and top were bolted back together, 
I wasn't needed.
Except when I discovered the shelf was in backwards
and we had to unbolt the top to flip it around
(how it got put on wrong when the word "Front" is clearly written on the shelf I'll never know).
We finally got the bulk of the job done
once we got the back attached.
I'd like to find a Narnia poster or something and tack it to the back wall.
Big E said no.
I might just ignore him.
Attaching the front pieces was next.
I don't like that the doors don't go all the way down.
Big E thinks it would be a simple fix to make doors on the bottom.
For now I think I'll just store shoes on the bottom.
That leaves room in the closet for Big E's shoes.
Eventually, we got the doors all attached,
and everything in place.  
This thing is massive.
It doesn't really look great against that paneling.
Then again, nothing looks great against that paneling.
Eventually the wall will be a nice sage green,
and I think that will go nice with the wood.
It better since this wardrobe nearly takes up the entire wall.
We did have a few parts left over.
Big E thinks they were over kill.
Hopefully we don't get crushed to death.
In a couple of places there are hand written
descriptions about what the wardrobe was made of
and by whom.
Basically, the wardrobe was made of Christmas trees 
from the square in the City of Hagerstown.

I haven't found Narnia yet, but I'm still hoping.