Monday, May 14, 2018

Making use

Another one of those ideas hubby loves me for (grin.)
We have a huge cedar tree out in the side yard.
It's actually a couple of trees but looks like one big bushy tree.
Over the course of years, it has been consuming more and more of the yard.
We do like it because it blocks the view of our back yard from the road
so didn't want to get rid of it.
Also, it's beautiful and smells wonderful.
So, here's where my brainy idea kicks in.
I suggested that we clean up the bottom branches so it's just up off the ground.
Mr. LB got the little chainsaw and made his way in toward the trunk of the tree.
He cut the bottom branches all the way around.
From the outer skirt, I began to try to figure out just which branches to pull
and figured I was tugging on ones that were still attached.
Finally, Mr. LB took hold of the base of of one of the branches and walked out.
It was difficult because the branches that were in part laying on the ground
and had taken root!
In addition, there were a half dozen smaller trees that had sprouted up
with trunks 2"-4" adding to the bulk.
We got the branches pulled out and set to work on them.
Even though these are smaller, cedar makes great wood for starting fires.
It's unfortunate that our old cottonwood wasn't a better burning wood since there was lots of that.
I am making use of many of those rounds,
but we'll probably end up burning some of it which will make a ton of ash.
Maybe next winter won't be tooooo cold, because 
we are sure getting a scrappy looking wood pile.
We tend to focus on the burning qualities of trees
because it is such an important part of our lives 
and requires a great deal of time and energy.
But there are other good qualities for both of these trees.
I've used those sticky little pods that the cottonwood shed 
to infuse oil for healing balm.
It works wonderfully but does smell just like cottonwood 
in case that bothers you.
The cedar of course repels bugs and moths.
We are infusing quite a bit of oil so we can make soap with it.
We made it through a good part of the branches 
when God told us to take a break.
He kindly decided to water for us (it started raining.)
We should be able to use just about every morsel of the branches.
It rained Sunday too, and 
I didn't feel like working in the rain so it's taken a little while to clean up.
I will rake up underneath the tree eventually.
Hopefully, this will let enough light in that we don't lose more lawn.
We try to make the most of our resources and trees are pretty important to us.
I can hardly wait to use the cedar oil.
Also, since we began on the cedar tree, that other cottonwood fell
as I shared in the last post.
We've been working on getting it cleaned up as well.
One of these days, we might get a yard back.

Now I have a confession to make~
Shortly after the post where I showed my upside down tomato cages,
Mr. LB noticed them and said, "NOooo!"
Evidently, that totally bothered him last year (who knew?)
He asked why, I so I told him they tipped and didn't go in the ground even, etc.
He asked if he could try.
"Sure," says I.
Of course, he tried and one tine would promptly hit a rock.
He said he could fix them, and in no time he had a thin-cut 
and chopped the stakes/tines down to about 14"-18" from the first ring.
He went through and cut each one and put them in the ground right side up.
So now I don't look quite so much like a goof.
If you are having issues with your tomato cages, 
you might try trimming the tines.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

After the Storm

I have another post nearly finished to let you know what we’ve been up to,
but last night we had a major storm go through. 
We watched it happen. 
The base of that cottonwood is at least a couple feet across.
It was alive and healthy.
It was good that we had taken out the two trees a few weeks ago 
or this would be far worse!  
Luckily, nothing hit the house, rigs, critters or us 
but we sure have a mess to clean up now.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Eggshells Worked!

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say they worked and are still working.
The most difficult part was writing on eggshells.
What I really love is that there are no plastic containers to deal with.
The entire set up aside from my trays is compostable.
Though that was also a plus as there were no markers getting in the way 
or getting smudged.
I have started my seeds in "rounds."
The more cold tolerant things I started first,
then as they began growing and I could move them out, 
and I found morsels of time,
I began the more delicate things (like tomatoes.)
Someday when I have a greenhouse, 
maybe I will be able to do more all at once.
For now, in my kitchen, this is what I do.
In order to plant the plants, 
I just use the corner of the spade and crack the shell
making sure to break the inner skin of the shell too.
Yes, it's early, and I certainly don't want to jinx myself,
but so far what I've planted has lived.
 (Sweetpea vine)

Funny little note~
Mr. LB suggested that next time, I plant the faster growing, larger things all together so that the one tray could be dealt with as they grew.
I then explained to him that it's meee he married, and that
they were planted in alphabetical order.

It always looks so pretty all dug up and planted - before the weeds arrive.
We were given some tomatoes that are pretty big so they are in the ground.
Mine are still pretty small so will wait a while before introducing them to the outdoors.
Again, I'm a rebel.  I use tomato cages upside down. 
They always seem to hit a rock and be crooked then tip when the plant grows.
This way they are wider at the bottom so don't tip as easily.
I should put some sort of decorations on the tips so folks can think
I'm whimsical rather than just goofy.
One other thing I've done this year that's new (to me) is to use burlap in the baskets rather than purchasing the nest things.
I don't like paying for those things so I usually just don't use the baskets.
I had quite a bit of burlap on hand as I had bought some to make a hooked rug
then found out how awful it is to work with and on for rug making.
I will see if I can make it last a couple years.
I actually like it better so far because I was able to fit more dirt in the baskets.
With the nests, it seems like they don't come up over the edge of the basket
and their thickness makes the growing space rather shallow.
As things grow, I'll share.
It feels so good to play in the dirt.
And I can hardly wait for that first green salad 
if we can keep the deer out this year.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Being a Do-er

Good Morning.
Hope you all had a blessed Easter holiday.
We had a small gathering with a large meal at our house.
It was "easy company" and a pleasant day.
The frogs are juuust beginning to chirp, those little talkers.
It's not the whole chorus like we will have.
These are probably the optimistic frogs since we can still freeze at night.
I love the sound of them though. 
They aren't like the shrill screech of the cricket.
There's a ribbit undertone that makes it relaxing, easy.
I've been anxious for spring this year - spring fever, maybe?
It has me stirred up.
And somehow hearing the sound of those chirping talkers has reminded me
that another year has passed.
You know, 'talkers' as opposed to do-ers.
I've felt a need to finish things 
so have been doing some of those things that I've put off for far too long.
Then there are the things I've talked about doing for some time.
These things are 'dreams' of sort.
I don't want to be just a talker (even though it's easier.)
I've dabbled here and there but have never had 
a real opportunity to develop my ideas - 
Or, more likely,
I've had the opportunity but either didn't recognize it or take advantage of it.
Those frogs chirping just seem to be telling me, "Now."
It's time.
No, I don't have any more time now, but
it's time.
I don't want to just be a talker.
I want to be a do-er.
Somehow I need to figure out how to do it on 24 hours a day though.
We both work full time with nearly an hour drive at each end of the day.
Maybe if I didn't spend a third of my life sleeping.......
but that's not much of an option.
If I continue sleeping at night however,
something's gotta give.
I'm hoping to share with you soon,
 but my posts might not be regular while I take time to work on these projects.
I am still working on finishing things I started in the past,
but am also trying to be intentional about devoting a certain amount of time to 
"my work."
I'm doing.

Monday, March 19, 2018

He Couldn't Take It

I knew it wouldn't be long.
With his trusty sidekick of course.
Yesterday was the day.
Mr. LB fell the 2 big trees that needed to come down.
It had snowed Saturday
so there was still a skiff covering most of the ground in the morning.
Needless to say, the ground was still as wet as last weekend.
Above is the locust which was dead.
You can see a couple large rounds of cottonwood in the background.
Those are from one removed out behind the shop 2 summers ago.
We will take care of them this summer.
He got this all bucked up and taken care of before moving onto the next.
My folks came up so Pa helped with the cottonwood.
This one was pretty good sized and was leaning way over.
They got most of it cleaned up and I have a feeling when I get home from work,
I will find Mr LB out here working on bucking up the rest.
It amazes me just how much water these trees use.
That's actually a puddle in the stump.
This is also how that large one in the background of the first picture was.
The wood from this will need to cure for a while before we do anything with it.
Now I have to figure out what to do about the stumps.
Always something :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Simple View

It might sound silly to someone who wants a sweeping view
of vast expances or city lights.
But I'm completely thrilled at the moment with our front view.
This is looking right out our front door.
We aren't far off the little mountain road.
It had become overgrown which Mr LB actually liked from a privacy aspect.
There's only so much we can take.
We actually fell and cleaned up 2 large trees and numerous smaller trees 
from this not so large area.
We did keep a bit of firewood from the larger two.
(A thorn apple and an old plum - not all shown.)
We got the spring fire going and worked out here all day.
I'm hoping to put a waddle fence up to hide the propane tank.
This is the closest thing to a "before" view.
Maybe that makes me a bad blogger
since I don't think of everything in life as a bloggable moment 
and take pictures of the progression.
Sometimes it just feels good to work - without technology.
All I know is it's kinda difficult for me to make the decision to cut down a tree
so when I ask hubby if he wants to play with the chainsaw,
he seldom hesitates.
We would have half as many trees if it were up to him.
We have two more yet to go (over in the big yard) but the ground is too wet at the moment so we have to wait.
One is a huge cottonwood that is reeeeally leaning.
That won't make good firewood, 
but we might use it for early fall or late spring fires.
The other is a good sized locust that is dead but one little branch.
That one should be great for firewood.
For now, I will look out my front door and appreciate a day spent working 
with my wonderful husband and how much cleaner it is.
This is my simple view.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Rebel in Me

You may have already figured out that I have a wee bit of a stubborn streak. 
Oh, you hadn’t noticed?
Bless you friend. 

March 11, day light savings time requires us to “spring forward” an hour.
Ha!  I didn’t change half my clocks.
I changed the coffee pot (important!) the alarm clock (sorta important,) and the mantle clock (not as important but convenient.  When it strikes, I know the time.)
The other clocks I left on day light savings time.
We just "fell back" in November.
Regardless of the hear-say blaming the idea on farmers,
it was actually businessmen who came up with the idea and pushed it through government.
It worked so the date has been altered a couple of times to promote consumerism.
Farmers actually lobbied against it as it messed with the cycles of their livestock.
(That makes sense to me.)
So I guess in my own quiet way,
I'm lobbying against it as I'm driving to work, 
and it's after 8AM according to the clock in the car.
I wouldn't care which time we stuck with as long as it didn't change.
And now you know, I'm a rebel.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Another Project from the Scrap Pile

These are homemade seed starting trays. 
As I shared back here and here, I have a scrap wood pile that I’ve been working on in order to make it disappear or at least shrink considerably. 
Over the course of the past few years,
we’ve been working on removing plastic from our lives. 
This is no small feat as our society promotes quite the opposite (disposable) 
as the norm.
We might never completely get there, but we do try.
This year I will be using eggshells for seed starting.
(They aren’t yet washed in the pix, but they will be.)
I’ve never tried this before but have always thought it clever
so will have to let you know how they work out.
For the trays, I began with a 1x2, made a frame with two sticks measuring 12” long and two sticks measuring 13 1/2” long in order to make it square.
I had a bit of hardware cloth so used that for the bottom of two of the frames.
I ran out of 1x2s so made my own from a short piece of 2x4 as well as some slats.
For one of the frames I used the slats, and
I am hoping to make a few more.
The ones with wire are lighter weight wise,
but the slats I am able to make virtually for free.
These are so easy and can be made to fit 
whatever size seed starting pots you use.
If I wanted to “trap the water” I could place a plastic bag in the tray, but I’m hoping by watering carefully and watching, I won’t have to mop up mini-floods.
So far they are easy to stack and move~
Again, will let you know once full of plants.
If I can't be in the garden,
I suppose I can at least make something for it.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

QAL in the Snow

Howdy folks.
Just a quick post so you can see how deep it is around here.
We got a foot of snow yesterday!
It dumped on us.
I opened our front door to see this.
Our Christmas tree is still out front and looking festive.
Since it's been snowing all week (though not a foot in one day like yesterday,)
I joined a Quilt-a-Long.
I had never done this so had many questions 
as I wasn't quite certain how they worked.
Mary Elizabeth Kinch was very kind in answering my list of questions.
She is hosting the Foothills Quilt-a-Long.
I was rather smitten with it so decided to join in the fun.
Here are my first 7 blocks.
Please forgive the quality of the photo - not the best.
They don't look very exciting this way, but set on red fabric, they do pop.
I didn't have room to lay them out properly,
but the first 5 blocks are the top row.
The last 2 blocks are the first 2 blocks in the second row.
I am keeping the "mistake" in the second block just as the original maker did.
I've not bought a thing for this but am using fabrics I have in my stash.
I told Mr LB sometime back how there is/was a superstition
that every quilt needed at least one mistake to let the evil spirits out.
He laughed.
I'm not sure he believed me until I told him about quilts that were impeccable,
but the maker would stitch a number backwards when dating it
or put a non-matching small piece in a corner.
I showed him this one and asked if he could see the mistake.
He didn't until I pointed it out to him.
Then he laughed again.
He is too much of a perfectionist to do such a thing.
I just think it adds character ~ especially since this is a scrappy quilt.
If you are interested in joining,
I don't think it's too late.
Hop on over on the link above and take a peek.
Now you know what I do while it snows.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The State of the Garden

Right out the gate, I have to tell you 
I am so anxious to get out and play in the dirt.
I was home for a day this past weekend and the weather was above freezing
 so I put a jacket and gloves on and headed out there.
We get so many leaves and pine needles that blow in and/or fall
that even though we "clean up" in autumn, it's difficult to tell.
Looking out back toward the sitting area was just atrocious.
(sitting area)
I grabbed the wheelbarrow and a spring rake and started in.
After 2 or 3 wheelbarrow loads, it was starting to look a little better
so I came in and warmed my fingers by the fire.
When I looked back out,
Mr LB had picked up the rake and had another wheelbarrow load started.
It's amazing how much debris finds its way into every nook and cranny.
(guess we'll just have dirty birds)
There was an unfortunate discovery since our last snow melted.
My bird bath in the center of the garden shattered.
It wasn't a cheap plastic/resin one, but
 when the lambs destroyed the garden two years ago, they knocked it over 
and probably cracked it or stressed it so when it froze this year, it broke.
(ideas in progress)
In light of that I decided to change things up a bit😉
I can't show you all I have in mind, because it's not finished.
I got cold.  It was a high of 35 degrees that day, and I am a wimp.
(believe it or not the "after" shot)
I have little seed packets starring at me, calling me, taunting me -
but I know it's too soon.
There is a quote on many garden sites about if you only garden 
from May to September,
you're missing the best part - the dreaming and hoping.
I can't remember the exact words of course but it makes sense.
(a friend brought this back to me from the garden show in Seattle)
Regardless of the temperature,
it felt good to get outside a move a little.
We got to enjoy the cleaned up view for all of a day before Mother Nature 
reminded us that it's still winter.
(view out the back door)
And our view of white returned once more.
So I guess it's like cleaning behind the refrigerator.
Nobody can tell it's done, but I know it,
and that feels good.
That was last weekend.
I believe it has snowed all but one day since then.
(view of what we call the big yard)
There was someone else who was glad to get outside 
and spend some energy too.
(Rip vs. Rope ~ looks like Rope is winning.)

PS~ See Bonnie, that green was just a temporary glitch in the weather system.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Favorite Valentine Quote

Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.
Wm. Shakespeare

Saturday, February 10, 2018

$20 Rabbit Hutch

Hucklebunny has settled into her new home nicely.
She was rather adamant that it not be referred to as
Hucklebunny Headquarters.
She informed me (quite firmly) that it is Hucklebunny Hideaway.
I wasn't aware that a little bunny could be so particular. 
As stated in the title of the post,
this hideaway set us back $20 and some sweat equity.
Before I explain the details,
let me say, it could have been a $10 bunny hutch
but a certain royal bunny wanted a shingle roof which we were out of
instead of tin that we already had on hand.
She really is a particular little thing.
She was given a supervisory position over the hens.
That's a roll she mostly chooses to ignore.
Instead, she has been trying to claim head of security from a certain
rather bewildered canine.
Rip is nice to her and seems aware that bunny stew isn't on the menu,
but questions our sanity for torturing him so.
She is a rather naughty bunny and has "marked" his bed
so is no longer allowed to be free in the house.
As additional punishment, she has to sit in my lap and be petted.
Ha!  That'll learn her.
Now on to the hutch, ahem, I mean hideaway.
After the last post, you might understand that disposable cash
is pretty scarce at the moment.
My solution was to build the hutch from things we had on hand.
Amongst those things were some locust posts.
These were decent posts that I'd used in a different project 
then changed my mind on.
Whenever we cut down a locust, we save posts if we can.
They are a very hard wood and once cured almost impenetrable.
Rather than try to use brackets, 
Mr. LB had the brainy idea just to strap them together 
with some 1" metal he had pieces of.
This worked great because we could cinch them tightly.
The "cage part" is about 54" wide and 28" deep (OD.)
I will say using posts creates a few challenges in getting things square.
The posts weren't exactly straight.
I laid out the front as one frame then the back as another.
I was able to scrounge side boards from my scrap pile.
I had a little bit of hardware cloth left over from the chicken coop
so only needed to purchase a 10 ft. roll ($10.)
Again fitting that wire into/onto those locusts that weren't square
was an interesting task.
I felt like I could use an extra arm or two to hold things in place.
I used the air stapler in one had and my other hand had to do the rest.
The door is held on in an old fashioned method of leather scraps.
Only they used to use old shoe leather as door hinges.
My latch is rudimentary at the moment, but it works.
I need to have my favorite metal fabricator make some special enough 
for Her Huckle Highness.
Here you can see the components and construction better.
The roof is shingles which I have to agree looks much better with the whole hideaway theme and natural posts.
They cover chipboard and tar paper which were both scraps.
I used a little less than 1/2 of a $20 bundle.
(That means I have more to make something else:-)
Then because St. Valentine's Day is this week,
she has her hideaway decorated accordingly with red and white lights and vines.
She seems quite pleased with her situation
though seems perturbed that there is a canine with higher ranking.
One other addition that I am hoping to add
is a framed screen to hang below the cage
to catch the "berries" and let the liquid flow through.
When I get this done, I can share more.
I tend to enjoy making things using what's available.
I also really enjoy not giving box stores my money.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Our Big News~ Entrepreneurship

Well folks,
I've not shared a lot lately, 
so I have a bit of catching up and explaining to do.
Yesterday was my first real day "off" for a while.
I was able to relax and catch up on laundry, dishes, floors, etc.
I know to many that doesn't sound very relaxing,
but for me there is a certain peace of mind in having the house in order.
"House in order" is used loosely here 😊
We (really Mr. LB) opened a new business.
He is a custom metal fabricator.
He does anything from small hand rails to structural packages.
He had worked for his previous employer for over 11 years
so it was a big step for him.
Once the decision was made, it took about a month 
to get all the legalities in order.
Pretty much since Christmas, it's been a whirlwind.
We are actually still in the process so to speak.
The land line is supposed to be hooked up this week.
We don't have a website - yet.
I am still working at my full time job, then doing 
whatever needs to be done in "off-time."
We have a shop leased where the previous tenant was an elderly gentleman who decided to retire after twenty-ish years in this location.
He smoked and I doubt ever cleaned anything.
Things were done with what I call "the Little Rascals" method.
You know how they would find parts and pieces and make some sort of contraption that would do the task - and what that looked like.
It's taking time to SCRUB everything and to undo some of the hodgepodge.
That is PVC then hose running down the wall for water out the other end 
where they punched a hole in the wall.
Yes, it ran right by open wiring.
I have the office area scrubbed with the exception of about 2/3 of the ceiling.  My M-I-L helped one afternoon. Thanks Sharron!

Also, here's a little closer look at those walls.

I also have the first coat of paint on about 3/4 of the walls.

After first coat of paint.
I had a helper.
Mr LB got his last (for now) big piece of equipment Friday.
He received his first check from a client Thursday.  Yay!
As opposed to checks from our savings!
And that brings me to another point.
I think I've mentioned in the past that each year 
I set two financial goals, a realistic goal and an optimistic goal.
In 2017, we saved pretty hard.
It didn't always feel like it. 
Because we were focused on saving, spending was a bigger deal.
We actually exceeded our optimistic goal, not by much, but some.
Having done that is what afforded us the opportunity to do this.
It's huge for us!
It's not that we didn't save prior to 2017 or
that we made a ton of money in 2017.
It's that we made it a priority, and that made all the difference.
Starting a business isn't something we planned.
(That doesn't sound good worded that way.)
It was just timing ~
He was frustrated with his workplace (though left on good terms.)
We saved what we could.
He is an intelligent and talented man 
which makes working for someone else that much more difficult.
He should have done it years ago, but we had debt so couldn't.
We have certain stresses and worries at the moment,
but there is excitement and celebration right alongside of them.
If anyone needs encouragement to save,
please do what you can to escape debt and save.
Even when you struggle, keep at it.
Don't throw in the towel.
The reward is worth it.
And if you forget, just reread above.
We now have our own business-
Metalcraft Northwest, LLC.
Isn't that just incredible?