Monday, June 22, 2009

Going Green with our Lawn

I've been under the weather the past week and have been in a bit of a funk. Hence the lack of blog entries this week. Nothing lifts my spirits like a new gadget/ toy to play with so my mood
brightened considerably when my new push reel mower arrived via UPS from Amazon. Our old gas mower had given up the ghost and I had decided long ago that when the time came for a new mower we would go with a simple push mower and a little muscle to keep the yard in shape.
After surveying the stock at Home Depot and Lowe's I checked out the offerings on and settled on an 18 inch mower from Great States. The reviews were good and it offered the simplicity I wanted with the ability for height adjustment. It was a breeze to assemble, weighs just 27 pounds and is easy to store. Best of all there is no gas or oil to fill, no spark plugs or filter to replace and fewer things to break down which has been a constant issue in this household. It is quiet and instead of inhaling gas fumes I can enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass.
After assembly my son took it out for a spin around the yard and found it was really not any more difficult to push than our old, clunky mower. I will still have to use the weed eater for edges and tight spots but for the most part I was quite pleased with the results. We had to go over a few spots twice and you don't want to let your grass get too long as reel mowers are not suited for very tall grass. While not a manicured lawn by far, this mower produced a neatly cut yard with no more effort than our previous gas mower at a cost of just under $100 including shipping. Burn some calories, save some green and go green all in one shot. Happy Mowing!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Watermelons: Up, Up, and Away

Lots of firsts this year in the garden. This is the first year of gardening with the square foot method. My four raised beds each have a five foot high trellis at the north end of the bed for vining plants such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and another first for me-watermelon.

I had never thought about growing watermelons vertically but after reading about it in Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening I thought I could give it a try. Due to size considerations I planted sugar baby watermelons and so far I have several growing up the trellis already. The largest is soft ball sized and there are a few grape sized melons as well. I will have to rig up a sling from cloth to support the watermelons as they grow larger. I've heard a pair of old nylons works well for this purpose. Sugar babies grow to about 12 lbs. so I'm curious if I'll be able to keep them on the vine until they are full grown. This should prove to be an interesting experiment indeed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Eggs for Sale

When we got our chickens we never thought about what we would do with our excess eggs. For a while we gave away our overage to friends and neighbors though sometime a little reluctantly on their part. It was funny the responses we got from people who had never been given free range eggs straight from the chicken. One younger friend was concerned that they wouldn't be safe. She felt the "store bought" eggs had to be healthier and free of disease. Worried that they weren't government approved she never did ask me for more eggs.

My yuppie neighbor took my offer of eggs but quizzed me on how to prepare them. "Do you just cook them like regular eggs?" she asked. It seemed like people around me could not grasp the idea that eggs start out somewhere before they hit the refrigerated section of Wal-Mart. It was becoming a chore sometimes just to hand out free eggs.

A health conscious co-worker started asking for some of our free range eggs but after the first dozen he was insistent that he pay me a fair price. I hadn't even considered selling my extras but realized a few bucks here and there to help out with rising feed costs might be reasonable. He was happy to get healthy free range eggs, I was happy to have the extras go to someone who appreciated the value of really fresh eggs. Win-win situation all around.

Shortly after that several senior ladies in a nearby retirement development started calling asking for eggs. These women had been raised in the country and in a time when more people kept chickens for eggs. They were thrilled to get my eggs and each had a story that started, "when I was a young girl..." and "back on our farm.." Each one remembered how great farm fresh eggs were and they even started saving empty cartons for me. I quickly learned that it is futile to argue with eighty year old women to just take the eggs for free. We eventually agreed that market price was fair.

Now I have more people interested in buying eggs than I can keep up with. If I were living in an area that would permit me to increase my flock I could actually make a small side business out of this. While it is sad that some have been brainwashed to believe that safe and healthy food cannot come from your own backyard, thankfully I have been lucky to find that segment that finds value in a freshly laid free range egg.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hunter lives up to his name

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was just coming over the horizon and I could hear the birds chirping outdoors. I heard our cat, Hunter, crying at the front door and went to let him in. Lo and behold he greeted me at the door bearing a gift for our family. Living up to his feline destiny he presented us with the remains of his latest conquest, a blue jay.

While my initial reaction was to scold him I remembered that this is just part of his nature. One look at his proud face and I could only accept his gift graciously. Keeping his family full of tasty blue jay was his job and he was as pleased as could be. Hunter brushed up against my leg purring and I brought him in for a treat to reward him for his successful hunt.
Shutting the door to give Hunter his due I was more than willing to let my boys take care of gift removal when they woke up.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up


Swiss Chard are coming along

I got to eat our first squash of the year this weekend.

No rest this weekend. My daughter and her friends went on their campout and despite my fears for what could go wrong-hey I'm still the Momma Bear- everyone had a great time. They navigated major highways, pygmy rattlesnakes and miscellaneous dangers adeptly and I couldn't be prouder. My daughter called on the way home to say she had been the recipient of a ticket. I was ready to blow my stack with visions of skyrocketing car insurance racing through my head until she clarified, "no Mom, I got a tick!". Phew, a tick I can handle, a ticket that's a whole 'nother ballgame.

As for me, I spent the whole weekend having a much needed and quite rare Me Getaway. I attended a two day defensive shooting class and brushed up on my personal protection skills. I had a wonderful time, relieved a little stress, burned up a lot of ammo and came away with quite a sunburn. If you love to shoot there's nothing better than a weekend at the range shooting at paper bad guys from behind barrels.

Lastly, I took some pictures of the gardens progress. I did absolutely nothing in the garden this weekend and the grass around the raised beds has gone wild. Guess I know what I'll be doing tonight after work. That pumpkin plant my niece insisted on planting, Pumpkinzilla, has grown completely out of the bed and is roaming Tokyo ready to swallow cars, chickens and whatever gets in its way. The squash bugs tried to kill it but even they failed. I will enjoy getting my sweet revenge when I carve up the pumpkins for pie at the end of summer.