Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Garden is A-Buzzin'!

Garden activities are in full swing around here. Just planted last year, my mini-dwarf apple tree already has 3 lovely, perfect apples on it.

The tomatoes and beans are coming in really well right now. I like the big, flat Italian (or, eye-talian, as my fiance says) beans best.

My purple butterfly bush has all kinds of visitors--admiral, monarch, black swallowtail, yellow swallowtail, and mourning cloak butterflies. It is next to the other flowers in my butterfly and hummingbird garden--trumpet vine, monarda, penstemon, and coneflower. Hummingbirds come and go all day, and they even fly right up to my window to check me out. This garden is right outside my home office window and what a joy it is to see all of these animals flit in and out all day!

Raspberries, blueberries, and corn are already done. Hopefully some sweet peppers will get big. I planted 6 plants so hopefully I will get something! Last year they did not do so well for some reason.

Concord grapes should be in about late August/September or so, assuming they got over their fungus problem. I really should keep a better eye on that.

My chickens are having lots of fun, when I let them out, to roam around the yard and garden, eating weeds, dirt, bugs, and who knows what else. Here is my Fluffernutter enjoying some dappled sun/shade in the garden. Her little downy behind is so cute! I will be glad to get married and move because then I can keep my chickens normally, without worrying about the troublesome neighbors I have now! (They are inside because the neighbors are being difficult)

I love summer and I do not want to see it end!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Am I eccentric? Or just incredibly blessed?

Yesterday I introduced myself to one of the bigwigs in my company who happened top stop by my assistant's cube (she sits right next to me). She's the assistant for, let's see, it's got to be 20+ people and I have no idea how she keeps up with all of them. But, she knows everyone and they all stop by eventually to say hello to her, so it's great for me to get to know these higher-ups.

At any rate, one of these management folks came by, and I'd always wanted to meet him, as he's in charge of Innovation for the whole company, and I get along well with those types, since I'm pretty creative. (It helps to keep one's options open, and know people, in the event I want to move to another job in the company someday.)

So as I'm introducing myself to him, my assistant urges me to tell him about my "pets". I tell her no, I can't tell him about THAT. She says, Oh go on, he's an animal guy, so I take a deep breath, and tell him about my 3 chickens. A broad smile spread across his face, and he told me about his 4 dogs and 9 (NINE!) parrots and something of something else (I stopped paying attention when he said parrots, as I love parrots and miss the ones I had to give up (due to taking care of my mom and her affairs). At any rate, he thought it was the greatest thing and then complimented me on my necklace (that day I was wearing a silver tree).

So, when a new position opens up, and it comes time for him to look for that someone who can think outside of the box, hopefully he will think of that woman who had the nerve to introduce herself to someone so high up and who has chickens and unusual jewelry. It's nice to know that there are like-minded people in this company and they aren't all into sports teams and drinking.

After he left, my assistant said that he's about as eccentric as they get in this company. Am I eccentric? What makes a person eccentric vs. normal? Eccentric vs. creative? When is eccentric bad? Is it ever good? Or am I just incredibly blessed by God to look at things at a different angle, an angle that delights people and takes their minds down a path they hadn't known of before?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Livestock Wish List

A girl can dream! I've been dreaming of any additional livestock we'd get once we get married. My fiance already has meat cows and a few chickens. Here are the animals high on my list:

--More chickens! Exotic ones like Polish crested and Sultans. Some Rhode Island Reds and Welsummers. Regular ones for meat.


--A couple sheep. Just a couple.

--If we had a pond, some ducks.

Here are the animals I probably won't get, but can still dream of:

--A good riding horse. Just about every girl dreams of having a horse.

--A couple goats, for milking and for helping keep the weeds down. I hear goat milk taste simliar to cow's milk.

And, finally...our next dog:

--A good herding dog. Preferably border collie mixed with something like lab.

That's it. I love animals!

Rained Out!

I was going to cut the grass, but it started raining, so I thought I'd make another entry here.

I found that ready ear, and it was wonderful! 22 rows of tiny kernels, and 9" long. Tasty! Nothing like fresh corn from your own garden. My fiance says that you don't really need the 4 rows like it says on the seed pack. You just have to have the rows close enough that the pollen from one plant's ear will fall on the pollen of anohter plant's ear. (he should know, as he's a real live farmer!) That's good news, as I had only two rows of 6 plants each.

I "fooled around" (read: had fun!) yesterday going to a Chicken Coop Tour. Usually I have 1 fun day on my weekends, and 1 work day. A couple lives in a normal suburban house. They had chickens (all hens) for 2 years, living under a swing set. Some neighbors either didn't know about the chickens, and others were fine with them. At any rate, things were going along swimmingly for 2 years, no problem. They recently decided to build a proper chicken coop, with inside digs and a nice big covered area outside, all properly fenced in and with double closures to keep raccoons out, insulated for winter complete with a red heat lamp for when it's really cold out. It really is a brilliant design, the Cadillac of coops by their own description (a description with which I heartily agree). Now they get a notice from the city that they have to get rid of the chickens by the 23rd of the month. They have decided to fight this legally. If they need me to support their cause in court, I am pretty sure I'll be there. It irks me that there are so many problems with drugs, murder, driving while drunk, you know, things that will really KILL people and SOMEHOW there is also time for law enforcement to conclude that chickens are BAD.

We had long discussions on this yesterday at the coop tour. We came to the conclusion that people think chickens are bad for 3 main reasons: 1) they are afraid of bird flu, 2) they think that chickens are stinky and noisy, and 3) having chickens gives the appearance of poverty. This third one really stuck in our craws. We believe that having chickens, and other things like knowing how to cook, having and using a clothesline, and such, all are self-sufficiency measures people can take that will give them a feeling of empowerment. We agree that many of the problems people have these days is that they are dependent on others for too much, and that leads to feelings of disillusionment with "the system", powerlessness, and depression. It's like the feeling of living in your parents' basement at age 34.

Well, the rain has stopped, though I still hear thunder. Think I will check out the scene outside and see if I can cut that grass!

Friday, July 16, 2010

OK this is my first blog ever. I didn't mean to start a blog, but someone I know just started one and here I am! I live in the Chicago suburbs, and I'm a 44-year-old single woman who has never been married but is recently engaged to a wonderful man! I have one of those corporate jobs...but...

I am definitely not your usual corporate type. I love to "play-work", as I call it, harder than I work at work. I live in a single-family house, and the lot is 1/4 acre. I am constantly doing something around the house and yard here to keep things looking nice and in order. I have tried to sit around and that never lasts too long before I see something that needs doing so I get up and do it.

On my little piece of land I have a lot of food growing that is expensive to buy in the store:
2 apricot trees
3 apple trees
1 mini-nectarine
1 cherry tree that has 5 types of cherry varieties grafted onto it (sour Montmorency, 2 sweet yellow and 2 sweet red)
2 blueberry bushes
A raspberry patch
A strawberry patch
Starter shoots of 2 gooseberry bushes
A concord grape vine
A vegetable garden. This year I am growing corn, sweet green peppers, sugar snap peas, beans, cucumbers, Thai basil, regular basil, parsley, cilantro, and tomatoes.

I also have extensive perennial gardens including trumpet vine, penstemon, monarda, 15 different kinds/forms of roses (climbers, tea, miniature, etc.), black-eyed Susans, tiger lilies, lamium, lily of the valley, hostas, bleeding heart (both pink and white varieties), corkscrew rush, deep red hardy hibiscus (which will have at least 150 blooms on it this year), Siberian iris, obedient plant, sneezeweed....well, I could go on and on.

WHEW! Are you tired yet? I know *I* am! It takes a lot to keep all of this going and did I mention that I also cut my own grass and have a dog, 4 birds, and 3 amphibians/reptiles? Guess I stay out of trouble that way. I am actually looking forward to winter. I think God gave us winter to give us a break. At least, those of us who live in the Snow Belt! This year I am thanking God for winter for that very reason.

Well, all for now. I have been trying to be good and not pick my corn till it's ready. I can just taste how good it will be! I'm going to go outside and see if I can find a ready ear...