Posts Tagged ‘creek’

Welcome

June 13, 2009

Welcome to our country home, complete with gravel road (but unfortunately no barn).

This is the direction most people come from when they visit. If you keep going north on this road, you cross a 4 lane highway and then end up in Colchester, population 1500. Before you get to Colchester, there is a four lane highway. If you turn right onto the highway, you will end up in Macomb, population about 18,000.

It’s hard to see in this picture, but there is a bridge. That’s the bridge that goes over the big creek near our house, aptly named Troublesome Creek, which floods frequently.

Country road, north view

Country road, north view

Here is our mailbox. We have a new one, but still need to paint it and put it out. I did, however, spruce it up with some plants and a little border (with a little help from Tim).

Spruced up mailbox area

Spruced up mailbox area

South view of country road, with entrance to our place on left

South view of country road, with entrance to our place on left

We have a little creek that feeds into the big creek. There is a small bridge over our creek, but the creek still floods and we have mud patches on either side of the bridge. If you look on the left of the picture below, you can see some stubble from the corn, still, but mostly it looks like dark green, lush grass. That’s the oats. There are two fields on either side of the driveway. This field on the left of the picture ends, but shortly after it ends, way up that hill, there is another much bigger field. The other field is up the road in the picture above. The house is way in the background (it’s a white kind of blob). There are two small black dots to the left of the telephone pole and those are Sweetie Cow and Bullseye, our two calves.

View from the "bridge" near the front of the lane.

View from the "bridge" near the front of the lane.

In this next picture you can see the house a little better and you can see the dark green oats on either side of the lane. The lighter green stuff is NOT oats and is a mixture of grass and weeds.

View of the oats and house.

View of the oats and the house

We love where we live. It is private and secluded, but also close to town. We are surrounded by trees and animals. I do miss my Phoenix friends, and I know the kids do, too. But we also live closer to family now and we are happy we moved.

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Friday Sounds

June 5, 2009

Things I heard today while at home:

Cows mooing in the evening and at night (occasionally it might be our cows, but mostly it’s not)

Frogs, lots of frogs!

Birds singing

Roosters crowing and chickens clucking

Chicks peeping

Cats meowing, growling, fighting

Cars on a gravel road

Babbling creek, if it’s really quiet

Big bumble bees and hummingbirds buzzing, which surprisingly sound the same

Kids playing, fighting

Gardening with chickens

May 6, 2009

Yesterday I planted peas. Yes, I realize I could have planted them weeks ago, but I was waiting for the tilling and needed to make a box, etc. So yesterday I finally made the 1′ X 4′ box for them, dug up the sod, added rotting leaves, compost, and potting soil, and newspaper, in that order. That’s not exactly lasagna gardening (or read this if your attention span or time is short), but I think it’s pretty close. It’s not exactly the mix Mel recommends in his square foot gardening books, either. He says to mix compost, peat moss, and coarse vermiculite in equal parts, but I don’t want to use peat moss because it is usually shipped from far away. However, I did read in Mother Earth News that you can substitute leaf mold for peat moss, so that’s part of why I used the decaying leaves from behind the garage (I was pretty excited to find that stash of leaves when we were mowing!). I suppose if I can find coarse vermiculite anywhere, I will try Mel’s mix. I must admit I’m having fun experimenting. Every bed is different, some dug and some not, some with the sod turned over, some with potting soil and compost, and now one with leaves, compost, and potting soil in layers. It will be interesting to see how things will work out. I think I will try the lasagna type method again, but without digging up sod.

As far as the peas go, I will need to make a trellis, of course, but that requires another trip to the hardware or lumber store, which we might do today since Tim has a day off. I’m not sure if we want to use metal in the form of electrical conduit, as Mel recommends in the All New Square Foot Gardening book or just wood. Wood would be cheaper, but I’m not sure it would last as long or be quite as sturdy. So I will have to think on that for a bit to decide what to do for all the vertical plants.

Oh, and I didn’t mow yesterday as I intended. Instead, I had to go to town to buy more cat food, pick up a prescription, and have lunch with Tim. The lunch was optional, of course, but it got the kids out of the house more than cat food or a prescription would have. So I spent the rest of the day working on the garden. Oh, and trying to keep the kids away from the kittens. Mama Cat has brought the kittens to the back porch, or maybe they came on their own. They have a place to sleep there and are getting used to us. I find it amazing they are used to us because Moira and Aidan want to carry them around, put them in the basket of my bike, take them down to the creek for adventures, and put them in hamster cages. I can understand their excitement about the kittens because they are, well, kittens! They are cute and fuzzy and playful (I can see my grandpa rolling his eyes about now and telling me I should just drown a few of them in the creek!), which makes it hard for the kids to contain their excitement. I am having a hard time getting the kids to understand that they are babies and that they do not want to go for a bike ride and they don’t want to be in a cage, nor do they want to tap dance or be stilt walkers, which involves the kids holding up their front paws to make them dance or walk around. I also reminded them that the kittens do not want to be far from their mama and that we are pretty much cage free around here. Even the chickens get to run around now and then as long as they are supervised to protect them from the outdoor cats.

Anyway, it is time to go out to the garden and do some work of some kind. I know the chickens will be happy to be out in the garden area. They are keeping the weeds down, and yesterday when I was digging up the sod for the peas, I found a bunch of red ants. I am happy to report that the chickens loved the red ants. The chickens did make it hard to do much digging, since every time I went to a spot to dig they would come running over to see what delicacy they could eat next. Digging while the chickens were out took longer, but it was a lot more fun.

The cows are coming!

April 17, 2009

One of the things I did yesterday was go to Farm King to try to find the following: check prices on charger for the electric fence, hoses to connect together to get the water up to the cows (and for the garden), and a gate handle. Well the trip to Farm King didn’t go well. It was such a nice day and I think the kids and I really wanted to stay home, even though I thought it would be fun to go into town. We were there way too long and I couldn’t think or find anything, including anyone to help when I really needed it. So I came home with bedding for the chicks, chicken feed, watering cans, two buckets to take treats to the cows and chickens (one for each kid, in theory, though I doubt they will be helping me every day), and some more seeds, including some shorter carrots, pole beans to grow with the corn, and something else I can’t remember. Oh, and two arrows for Aidan who now has a bow and some practice arrows. Of course, I have no clue about how to buy arrows and what is good or appropriate for someone learning. No clue. So I bought the wrong tips for the arrows we bought and one of the arrows broke on the way home. I don’t know how it ended up being a bad trip to Farm King, but it did. It was just too long, I think, and too nice to be indoors. In fact, the best part was when we were in the greenhouse/gardening area and the kids could run around. I’m trying to focus on that part because it was fun and nice to be outside.

Anyway, last night I was trying to figure out when to go back to Farm King since today we need a day at home to recuperate from yesterday’s trip to Farm King and tomorrow we are heading to Peoria for an overnight stay. I thought perhaps I could take the kids to Granny’s while I get groceries and go back to Farm King. Then we woke up a bit earlier than usual today (not early by any means, just earlier than usual) and we are all tired and a little grumpy. So we did our morning chores, minus walking the fence, then played in the creek, and inside to warm up and watch Spiderman 2. So we’re sitting inside mostly naked and I was totally absorbed in the movie, which is unusual for me. Then my brain registered that someone pulled up to the house, so I had to scramble to put on some pants! It was Scott the Farmer, who came by to see about our trip to Farm King and to tell us that the cows will be here either today or tomorrow.

Holy cow! Haha, no pun intended. I’m just a little excited and nervous and amazed that we will have two calves soon. Scott and I mixed up some feed for treats for the cows, talked about how much to give them, how to do it, and what time of day. Apparently morning is the time they graze a lot, so it’s better to wait so that they won’t fill up on treats. I need to do a little pile of treats for each one and each will get only about two quarts of treats. The treats are wheat gluten mixed with some other minerals. Scott told me the wheat gluten is mostly protein and is what is left after they make ethanol from the corn, so is probably from genetically modified corn. Apparently the lady who is selling us the cows doesn’t care for that feed, and I can’t blame her. Scott seemed to feel the same way, but it’s only temporary because soon we will be planting oats and that is what they will be eating. We will harvest the oats and save some for winter for the chickens, as well.

So anyway, Scott is going to call a farm supply store near where the cow people are (I have no idea who they are or where they live, but apparently near some other farm supply store), and they will pick it up and bring it all when they bring the cows. Since we are going to Peoria tomorrow, we may not be here when the cows get here. Tim will be here, most likely, and as long as I leave a check for the cows all will be well. We’ll come home Sunday and have cows (unless they arrive today, in which case there will be lots of picture taking and a third blog post for the day!).

How to attract wildlife to your back porch

April 8, 2009

Here’s how to get a close up view of wild animals:

  1. Move to the country, preferably an area surrounded by woods and a creek
  2. Acquire outdoor cats with purchase of house
  3. Spoil outdoor cats by feeding them soft cat food
  4. Give them more food than they can eat in the evening and forget to bring it inside
  5. Watch the skunks, opossums, and raccoons come by for the free buffet
  6. Learn that the outdoor cats are not at all afraid of skunks or possums (not sure about raccoons yet)