Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Courtyard Potager Garden Design ~ Revised

Well Folks, I'd like to hear what you think.
So Far!
From the time I was young and dust was new,
I was taught that you don't show incomplete projects.
For the most part, I've kept pretty true to that teaching.
Where it originated?  and why?
Maybe it's one more effect of media showing us everything from start to finish
 in 20 minutes or a 4 page spread.
I know not.
This was taken the first or second year we had the garden back here.

In the last post, I mentioned that we usually have one or two larger projects going at any one time as well as multiple smaller projects.
That got me to thinking.
So many little, huge, ginormous pockets of our time are spent on these projects, not sharing seems wrong.
After all, life itself is just one big unfinished project.
Isn't it better to show the progress and set backs and share encouragement, joy and sorrow then to hide it all away to the end?
The string lines are difficult to see but that's how much the paths migrated.

With that said, I'm throwing caution to the wind, breaking the rules, and
showing you one of our unfinished projects.
When I initially laid out our current garden design,
I used a traditional courtyard layout with grass paths.
I loved it for maybe that first year.
After that, it became a nuisance to mow, and 
the grass wouldn't stay out of the garden plots.
Over the course of a few years, the paths "migrated,"
so the plots were no longer square and even.
Back to the drawing board I went.
We had a huge pile of salvaged regular red bricks.
It couldn't be just a red brick road.
The artsy side of me can't do that.
This is as far as we got last fall.

I came up with a design and worked 16" pebble covered grey bricks into the path with the red bricks in a basket weave design to fill in.
We began last fall, then it froze and sat all winter incomplete.
And here I must mention,
I have an absolutely wonderful husband.
He has done this project for me.  
Other than packing a brick or two or fetching a tool, he has done the work.
I draw up a design and he builds/constructs etc.
Tilled the whole thing in order to cut the path.

All the full bricks are in place and he has been cutting bricks to fill in the edges.
That part is a slower, more tedious process
which is why most folks don't do it.
I figure if we are going to do it, we might as well have something we really like.
And yes, he likes it too.
So now, even though it's not complete, I'm loving it.
Can you see how nicely those bricks follow the string line?

I'm also looking forward to not having to mow around a circle while trying not to run over lettuce or beans, etc.
I am excited to be in the garden again and have planted a few things, but
it's only April, and weather can be sketchy so I'm trying to mind myself
and be good.
But oooh, those winter, store-bought tomatoes are disgraceful
and make me want to plant early. ~but I digress~
There is a bed of gravel under the bricks.

I'll keep you posted and share when the filler bricks are cut and in place.
I would love to know what you think - do you like to see works in progress
or prefer finished projects?


PS~ These first two books are in my home library.  The Courtyard book is wonderful and offers great inspiration for various styles.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Enough Time

It seems so amazing that every person we know 
can be busy all the time.
It's just how it is.

There's no time for this and no time for that.
The number one reason for not doing any given task is,
"I don't have enough time."
"There's not enough time" is a cliche in its own right.
I would like to share a little phrase that has helped me tremendously.

We always seem to have one or two larger projects and
several smaller projects going on around here.
When life throws a monkey wrench in the works,
it can get a little interesting, exciting, let's be honest - chaotic.
I know we are no different than many others as far as this goes.
It can get more than a little overwhelming for someone (me)
who likes order.
The phrase I learned?

"I have just enough time to. . . "

That's it.

It turns your brain around.
The brain is amazing.
It will jump ahead and fill in the blank.
So if you are thinking, "I don't have time to. . .,"
your brain will barrage you with the never-ending list of huge tasks
that take long hours to complete.
Likewise, if you say, "I have just enough time to. . .,"
your brain will also fill in the blank.
I have just enough time to  - get the coffee ready for morning,
just enough time to fold the towels,
just enough time to read my daily devotional,
just enough time to bring in some wood for later.
Whatever it is, it helps.
It's one more thing done or moment spent in a valuable way.
All those little 2-3 minute tasks make a huge difference
in the functionality of the home.


And one more thing about it~
I typically work well off a list, but sometimes 
the bigger efforts are difficult to break down into a doable sequence.
This little phrase seems to help in that area as well.
I have just enough time to - measure that board,
time to gather the tools/supplies, etc

Good job brain!
(I need to encourage the poor little thing so it won't quit on me.)
Maybe give it a try and see what you think.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Granny Miller has a New Book

Hey folks, guess what.
Granny Miller has a book.
"Granny Miller: A Mind to Homestead"

I was so thrilled to see this.
If you aren't familiar with her blog,

Katherine Grossman aka Granny Miller
shares old-time agrarian knowledge based on experience.
I was fortunate enough to read it via e-version shortly after
its release, and the hardcopy version is also available now.

This is the first in an upcoming series on the topic of homesteading.

Before we go any further, I just want to make clear:
I have never met Granny Miller.
I actually asked her permission to write this post recommending this book.
I've read it and would not be suggesting you read it 
if I didn't truly believe it was worthy. 
I am not being paid to write this.
There ~ now that that is clear.

I did write a review which you can read here.
The path to homesteading, self-sufficiency, and well being
is different for each of us.
We each have different views, needs, and desires leading us in multiple directions that would probably resemble a spider web if drawn on paper.
Take a look at the contents.
If any of those topics interest you, you won't be disappointed.
From cooking on a wood stove to sewing your own underwear,
the information is complete and well grounded.
If there is a topic you are after but don't see,
you might find it on her blog or in an upcoming volume. 

One thing I think is pretty special about blogville
is that we all do things just a little differently and are able to share those ways
while appreciating that others still do it differently.
And in the event that we need help and/or advise,
readers and fellow bloggers are an extremely valuable resource.
Being able to create a community through the internet is a gift indeed.

Take a look and keep well my friends.

PS (update) ~ if the link to her blog doesn't work, she might have taken it down.  I know she was having a few health concerns.  She takes it down if she can't manage it.  Let's send up a prayer for speedy recovery and look forward to her return. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Seed Carrot !

The joke in our garden is
I plant. . .God laughs.
Last year we had so many things come up from seed,
it was difficult to tell what we had actually planted.
If a spud pops through somewhere, so be it.
I leave it to grow
We do rotate what is planted in each plot each year; however,
last year we had a bumper crop of parsley - in the potatoes,
some fabulous spinach - in the onions,
of course borage - everywhere!
cherry tomatoes in the carrots and beets and so on.
It is actually almost comical that I put markers in the ground.
Yes, I still need to weed around it:)
This year, as I was wondering around out in the plots
looking and visually planning, I noticed something.
It was there amongst the weeds.
I was absolutely delighted.
A seed carrot!
In case you didn't realize, let me explain a little.
If you put an heirloom (not hybrid) seed in the ground to grow a carrot,
a carrot grows during that growing season.
Come late fall, the tops die back.
It does not "go to seed" (like our spinach, borage, and tomatoes.)
Depending upon the climate where you live,
it will either rot or keep until the next year.
This carrot actually survived our winter and is growing back.
This year at the end of the growing season,
it should bare seeds.
I put the tomato cage around it and
told Mr. LB (probably a little too often) to watch out for the carrot.
I have wanted to try to over-winter a few carrots for seeds
every year we've planted them.
Buuuttt, they are so delicious and never seem to be in a good spot.
This one is definitely not in a great spot,
but since the good Lord let it grow, I ain't a'stoppin' it!
I will have to let you know come fall, if it bares seed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The $42 Chicken Tractor

I didn't want a chicken tractor, 
buuuuuut. . . . 
Well, you see, it's like this:
Mr. LB was grumbling and grumbling about runny store-bought eggs.
Once upon a time I had chickens,
but a mink got into the coop.
Let's just say I really don't like mink.
Gloves and stoles are justified.
I wasn't going to have more chickens until I could build
the fort clucks of chicken coops.
So a couple weeks ago I came home with 4 wee little fluff balls
that made cute little peeping noises.
(as opposed to the dozen I used to keep)
Those fluff balls are about 3 weeks old now and
are making a mess in the shop bathroom.
Last weekend I started what I have been referring to as
The Bird Mobile.

I had Mr. LB bring home 8-2X3s and a 25' roll of 2 ft. wide,
1/2" grid hardware cloth.
(I had actually asked for 1X3s, but 2X3s were cheaper- go figure.)
Cost: boards $15 and wire $25=$40 so far.

I had measurements worked out so I didn't use more than 25 ft.
of the wire.
I actually don't like chicken wire.
It's difficult to work with and small critters can still get through it.
The hardware cloth is sturdier and easier to work with.
I made the box a little shy of 6.5 ft. long and 2 ft. tall.
I wrapped the outer "walls" with the wire stapling it in place.
Then 2 widths across the top one end.
(Never mind the stick sitting on top. Odd, the things that happen when working on a project.)  
The drops from the long sides are what I used for the corner posts
in the cabin/nest box.

These old trim boards were here when we moved in about 15 years ago.
They were in the old leaky falling down shed that is now gone,
then under the lean-to.
One of those things that I knew would someday come in handy.
If you don't have trim boards cluttering up your lean-to,
you could also use pallet boards just as easily.
We also have a plethora of screws in various sizes.
Because these are thinner boards, I did pre-drill the holes.
I know it takes a little longer, but then the boards don't split.
(I will put pine needles and shavings in here for them.)
For the "nest box," I used a scrap of plywood and another trim board.
Again this is something that could be done with pallet wood.
By the end of last weekend, this is as far as I had it.
(I started by pre-staining the boards then just wanted to get it put together.  That's also why there is a sheet under the coop - didn't want the stain on that nice clean shop floor:)
Today, got a few things finished up.
I put a handle on the door which cost about $2.
That brings our total to $42.
I think we have a little latch out in the shop.
If I can't find one and have to buy one, that might add another $2.
Mr. LB made the brackets for the wheels.
The wheels are more of those saved items.
When the kids were little, they had a few hand me down bikes
before they ever got their very own 'new' bikes.
Some of those bikes were still in good enough shape that they were
passed on again.
Those that had lived out their usefulness, 
I kept the wheels and disposed of the rest.
If you know someone who works at the dump/transfer station,
you might ask if they have bikes come in to snag one.
  I suppose part of the keeping things that might someday be useful,
is knowing what sorts of things are useful for your lifestyle.
Mr. LB and I both grew up on ranches, and at times we question
why the other might want to keep a certain item(s) but
we usually end up being okay with the "cluttery" items we keep.
We would probably have no idea what is useful when living a different lifestyle.
(All the same sealant/stain just new wood vs. old wood.)
The roof was more scrap plywood - it had really seen better days,
but it would be covered with tin.
We ended up with a sheet of tin for free.
If you know anyone who does metal buildings,
there is often a misc. piece strapped over the metal for the buildings
so the good metal isn't damaged.
There is nothing wrong with this piece.  
It's simply a different color from the building metal.
For this project, we weren't picky and obviously the price was right.
And in the process of doing this post and uploading pictures,
I did notice that Mr. LB didn't stain the board he used to attach
the wheel brackets.
That was probably so I will something to do tomorrow.
The only thing not in the pictures is that I am going to run a string or rope
from the bottom of the ladder up through the wire 
so I can lift it while moving it.
Since it drags, I don't want it jarred and twisted.

For 4 little birds until we build a 'real coop,'
I think it'll suffice. 
Looking forward to fresh eggs and a clean shop bathroom.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Built to Last ~ Round 2

Here is another item that seems to have been made to last a lifetime.
It was in our shop when we moved in about 15 years ago.
I had shuffled it around from here to there as different projects
demanded different areas of the shop.
Then last summer, as I was shuffling it around again,
I thought, "I wonder if it actually works."

So I took it out the shop door and washed it up.
I then plugged it in.
It appeared to work wonderfully.
She is a 1945-1950 Maytag.  I can't remember exactly.
I looked it up by the serial number but have forgotten.

I did do just a little research before I started "playing."
Evidently, if they get tipped over, the oil can run out
which obviously isn't good for the motor.
I had never tipped this one and upon inspection of the underside,
there appeared to be some grease/oil, 
but nothing like it had all run out.

Not a great picture, but I sent the sponge I used to wash it
through the rollers to make sure they would work.
The only thing I can't seem to figure out is how to swing the top 
roller section over to the side for loading and unloading.
There is that chance that at one point it was "repaired"
to a state that it no longer pivots.
Or there is also the chance that I just don't know the secret.
If you have suggestions,
I would love to hear them.

Next, I will look for new rollers and a new drain hose.
Both of those items are the rubber just being old and dry
and are not things the manufacturer had control over.
If at some point, our current modern washer gives out,
I'm not so sure I won't just bring this one in the house.

The other thing is the lid is missing.
I'll have to keep my eyes open for one, and
if any one out there has one in their shed or runs across one,
give me a holler.
I'm sure interested.