To harvest or not to harvest? Etna Bush Beans that is…

Google has led me astray. I’ve got my hands on the soup beans I’ve been coveting, the Etna Bush Bean but there seems to be no consistent information about the proper harvesting of these beauties. Google has failed me this time…

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Wait, chickens fly?

Our three hens have gone out to the backyard where they permanently live in our garden space. The reasoning behind this is so that they can help control the garden pest population naturally thus keeping our growing food happier and also providing us with some super nutritious organic eggs.

Did you know chickens that forage the majority of their food lay healthier more nutritious eggs?

My mother has been raising backyard chickens for several years, hers are in a fully enclosed run because in the boonies of Arizona the hawks, mountain lions and various other predators will pick your chickens off before you can blink.

Here in Indiana, in a subdivision, the list of daytime predators is slightly smaller. Actually our biggest predatory concern was our own dog and we worried about annoying the neighbors dog (a bird dog) on the other side of our shared fence.

Our dog, Dixie, did manage to grab the bird Everly calls “blue-red” when we attempted to let them both become acquainted. Luckily, Dixie only had feathers in her teeth, no chicken meat in that instance.

Since then the birds have been in the garden so there is a good solid fence between Dixie and chickens. Every few days we put Dixie on a leash and we let the chickens have run of the yard while supervised. The garden pathways quickly become picked clean of bugs, weeds and other chicken food. This is why lawn and yard time is also a must for them. The curse and blessing is chickens eat what they have access to, even my flowers and berry bushes when they get board with the lawn.

I mentioned a while back that we had many of our garden beds lined with salvaged window panes thought the winter, to protect plants and extend out growing season. A makeshift coldframe basically. Nathan did a similar vlog about the garden here.

This spring we haven’t gotten around to taking the window panes down and in the meantime they served as a great barrier between the chickens and the feverishly growing plants, until the chickens flew over them this week.

Holy crap, chickens can fly?

Yes, I know they have wings and that using them shouldn’t be that shocking but in all the years of my mother’s chicken keeping none of them ever flew higher than a foot or so…

In my pregnancy haze I became much more upset by this setback than needed and felt at my wits end about adding chickens to our homestead. Then we clipped their wings after sourcing this website.

So far they haven’t flown over the even lower fencing Nathan installed in place of the window panes. Yay the old window panes are out of the garden! But now they are stacked on the lawn, must find a place in the garage for storing them ASAP.

What a relieving fix to the chicken flying issue! Now if we could just keep the flies and gnats away… I bet if people didn’t let their lawns grow 4 feet tall we would have less bug issues, that and the meat dumping out by the pond’s edge… Well, I am off to search for some homemade fly and gnat remedies now. I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the garden this year:

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Sustainable living, 2012 and asking to potty. Fun times!

Over the weekend we watched two movies about 2012 and the Mayan calendar prophecies. We blew through all our instant play shows on Netflix and needed some dinner and unwinding entertainment. These were available for instant play so we thought we would give them a try.

The first movie was less than extraordinary. Actually we laughed all the way though it thanks to the lame graphics and music video feel of it. It really didn’t provide much information regarding why 2012 and the Mayan calendar prophecies are plausible.

The second movie was much better and it provided a balanced look at both the dooms day scenario and the global awakening scenario that some people believe in.

We aren’t getting our panties in a bunch one way or the other, whatever is supposed to happen will and we can only take it as it comes. It is a curious topic though and it made us thankful we are already doing so much to be self reliant.

We aren’t going to sell the house and go become mountain people and we also aren’t going to dig out a storm shelter under our house and stockpile for a world ending scenerio.

Living off our own garden harvest, learning the ways of food preservation and other “back to the earth” stuff will undoubtedly be helpful if we ever have to live though a major disaster.  It is not what motivates us though.

Today we began readying the garden for the autumn, fall and winter months. Our big task was to relocate this giant surprise grape bush that was in my rose bed.

When we first moved in here we had this seemingly dead grape cane that came from back in Arizona and had been in a plastic pot showing little signs of life. Last spring I noticed it’s roots were still alive so I plopped it in the ground in the rose bed to see if it would do anything.

Then I had E that summer and was busy learning to be a parent through the winter and spring when the grape amazingly sprang to life. Now it is a tangled mess of vines and leaves that will need to be pruned and prepared for it’s first spring harvest… and it can’t live in the tiny and over crowded rose bed.

Now was the time to move it, so that it gets several months to reestablish root growth in the new location before the icy winter arrives.

N painted the rabbit hutch as well as the dog and cat condos while Everly and I gardened. The new red paint looks great and it is nice to have another home improvement project taken care of.

My first round of direct sowed carrot and lettuce seeds didn’t take it seems so I started another round indoors in cardboard egg cartons a few weeks back. I was able to control the soil moisture and temperatures better sowing them indoors and was successful in getting some stuff sprouting.

Today I planted the sprouted seeds and egg cartons out in the garden with hopes that they will mature nicely before the first frost. The garden is still producing and growing like crazy and we are just trying to make the most of it for as long as we can.

Oh, I forgot to mention that this week Everly has been having a blast at the park. We took her for the first time and then we went again because it was such a hit. Now that she’s walking and gaining the urge to climb the park is great for her.

She had a major milestone today too. She asked to be pottied for the first time today. While playing and chasing daddy thorough various rooms of the house she touches the base of the toilet in the bathroom and announces, “Dada! Psssssssss….”

He reomved her diaper and put her on the toilet where she peed. Waho!

We’ve been teaching her the vocal cue “pssssss” as an association with going to the bathroom. It is an elimination communication technique. We’ve been doing this since she was only a few months old, we’ve been watching her cues and aiming her elimination in the toilet as much as possible.

Today she showed us that she gets it and that she knows when she needs to potty. Her asking to be put on the potty was such a proud moment and daddy got to share the big moment with her thanks to the unemployment. We are so amazed and proud of her.

Now lets see if it becomes a regular thing. It is quite possible that it wont for some time but she’s only 14 months so we are in no rush. Besides with EC it is the child’s cues and readiness that takes the lead not vice versa. Nonetheless we are still super proud of the milestone moment.

Still loving the new diggs…

It must seem dorky that we get so much enjoyment out of hanging around the house. These days we’ve been basically landscaping, building, gardening and fixing up our house. We can hardly believe that for the first time in about 10+ years we are living somewhere for LONGER than a year. This month marks 1 year here and now that we own it we aren’t planning to go anywhere unless N gets a new job, that wont be anything we have to deal with for another year or so though.

We are enjoying our neighbors too (nobody’s dog craps on our front porch and nobody sprays vomit on our back patio or anything, can you believe it?). We really like our neighbors with the twin boys, it is a nice change from what we are used to… We’ve had one set of bad neighbors after another as some of you will probably remember. Here the tune is different.

Over the weekend we did much yard work. N is borrowed a mower from the neighbor since we still haven’t bought a mower (because we still haven’t received our home-buyers tax rebate money). Anyway, we got this letter from the HOA about how residents are responsible for mowing behind their fences and all the way down to the pond out back… So N mowed our area around the pond and he also did the neighbors area since he was letting us borrow his mower and all, plus he mowed our front yard earlier in the week.

We’ve got all sorts of stuff going in the garden too! Just got a solar powered lamp put up in our front yard since our street has no street lights and is quite dark at night. Also got more wood and fencing so N can finish up the fence, arbor and gate to the garden.

Now that we’ve got the rabbits out in the yard again and another cat has been voted out of the house… Wait! I didn’t tell you that did I?

Friday one of our cats, Jack was in the office. I heard his scratching the litter box and I looked over to see him peeing on the tile floor right in front of the box. Whodunit mystery solved! I asked N to confirm what I was seeing as I was nursing E on the couch in the living room. Sure enough, he peed on the floor right in plain sight of his owner.

So he was promptly moved outdoors again. This time he stayed out there. The first nigh was hard because he cried and scratched at our doors and windows. Last night after setting him up with a cozy box on top of the rabbit hutch he was quiet and stayed put all night long. So, yeah… Two cats are outside living now and I haven’t noticed pee or poop on the floor since the relocation of Jack.

Speaking of the garden. Here is what it looked like last summer right after we moved in and before heading off to have Tater:

This is how it’s shaping up now, a year later, thanks to the book All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!
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And now both our cameras and both our phones are dead so I can’t share anymore photos :-( This mama needs a new phone and digital camera for mothers day. Hint, hint N! At least I have all the vegetables I could ever want in my backyard though!

I’ve got mad fever!

No, I am not talking scarlet fever or hay fever… It’s SPRING fever around here!

Thankfully we’ve kicked our cold (I should say E and I kicked it, N might be coming down with it now). So things are more productive here especially since the weekend was warmer than usual, basically it was NOT jacket weather and it really gave a taste of what’s been missing around here.

We have been itching to garden and to be able to sit outside in the sunshine and fresh air in the mornings. It feels like I’ve been stuck indoors forever… because I truly have. I mean I was about to pop just as summer was under way here so I wasn’t enjoying the heat or sun much, then I was with newborn E and avoiding the outdoors to protect her… Now we are ready for some outside time, bring on the spring!

Over the weekend we shelled the sunflowers that were hanging to dry from the summer. Remember the photo of E and the huge sunflower? Let me remind you:

We saved the massive sunflower heads for drying and shelling after they were done. Like unpacking our house the sunflowers are another thing that just got pushed to the back burner for a bit. Now a few are shelled though and we are planning to eat them, feed them to the birds, rabbits and even to replant some this summer. We are going to have several pounds of seeds when all the shelling is done.

For Valentines Day I got N a few gardening books he’s wanted. Specifically I got him All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space! and The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!.

Now that we are in our own place we can really start some long term gardening plans that will mirror our sustainable and self sufficient lifestyle goals.  This summer we know we’ll be able to grow all our own produce, this will be especially great with little Tater’s mouth to feed too.

Seeds are already started in the office in preparation for our February/ March planting dates. We even took a trip to the local hardware store so N could buy supplies for the garden beds he is building out back. He finished 2 of the planting boxes already!

We are roaring and ready to go! Growing our own produce is something we really enjoy, especially with the increase in genetically modified/ engendered crops and the high cost of organic local stuff. Growing our own food saves us money and it helps reduce our environmental impact (aka we aren’t buying foods that come from 100’s miles away). Plus homegrown food tastes better and is fresh for picking when ever we are ready to eat it. Yum! We are so excited.

So glad the weekend is almost here!

Well, we’ve officially spent the first week in our new place. We are much happier here, obviously and are so glad that the bulk of the moving process is behind us now. We’ve still got cleaning to do at the old place and we are trying to nail down a walk though appointment time with the slumloards but all in all the craziest part is over now.

During the week N had a meeting with some higher ups about his future at the station. Remember how this job was supposed to be an anchoring/ reporting gig? Since moving here his anchor time has been minimal (it’s happen once) so he was eager to hear what they had planned for him and his future.

It looks like they are hoping to have him around and are grooming him to fill some big shoes in about 3-5 years. This means buying a home was absolutely the right decision to make and that we truly will be able to stay here for a good amount of time. Yay for following the gut instinct.

Knowing you can truly settle in and build a life for yourself is amazing. We’ve got our “bun in the oven”, a home of our own and his career going in the right direction so we are super fortunate and are so grateful to have arrived at this stage in life. It’s been a long and grueling journey and it will continue to have up’s and downs I am sure but what more could you ask for? We are pleased with everything, obviously.

I’ve been getting bursts of energy and then major spells of fatigue so I am gardening and unpacking when I’ve got the energy. The weather is warming up and the plants are springing to life, I am enjoying this very much.

Also, the animals are adjusting much better these days it seems. They still act up now and then and need to be reminded of the rules but the overly obnoxious stuff in the middle of the night has stopped. This is a relief.

Other random musings:

I just saw a commercial about birth defects and Paxil so I googled it for more info and am just floored. “Babies exposed to Paxil early in pregnancy may have a higher risk of major birth defects, according to a new study.”

I already don’t have much faith in our drug saftey testing process here in the USA. This is why I’ve refused the RhoGam shot during pregnancy and am doing my research on vaccinations right now.

This whole Paxil development is just added proof that we approve and distribute way too many drugs to people before we fully understand the effects and risks of the drug. It’s irresponsible and scary. We really can’t trust that all approved drugs and procedures are safe for us.

I need a washer bad!! We are doing laundry at the old place till the end of the month because our new place doesn’t have a washer in it already. Ideally we would love an energy star, front loading washer but there is no way we can afford one right now. Shoot we can barely scrap $100 together to go towards the purchase of a used one.

Not having a washer is stressing me out a bit and I don’t really know when and if we’ll get one. I’ve been looking at craigslist for them but am so worried that I’ll end up with one that is crap and our money will have been wasted.

Also, the external hard drive we used to back up all the PC files and financial stuff (a Seagate Free Agent External Drive) is now dead.. Or at least the USB portion of the drive is acting wonky.It worked at the old place but somehow in moving the computer it’s become damaged and is not longer recognized by the computer.

I am stressing because I need to balance the accounts and work the budget before this weekend so I know how much money we have for groceries but all the data is on that drive that I can’t access.

I am going to go work in the garden a bit now to counter all the things I currently have to stress about, LOL. Hopefully you have a pleasant weekend in your neck of the woods. We are so ready to chill and get some slow progress made on the new place.

The Mesker Zoo and cat poo…

There is cat poo behind the front door again, thanks a bunch Hailey! She has been pooing back there for a week, for nothing other than the enjoyment of pissing me off. Both the cat boxes are clean and I have been scrubbing the poo area to get the smell out like every day.

I am thinking about just setting her free outside that way she can poo anywhere she wants. Anyone want a carpet pooing cat? Just kidding.

Enough about the cat poo. We are supposed to get some rain tonight here in Evansville. For the last few weeks we have heard nothing but whining about how dry and hot the weather has been. Every night when I switch on the news to see N’s report I hear about how hot and dry it was again today.

We think it has been just fine weather, minus the blood sucking mosquitoes. It has been much like Phoenix, AZ weather- hot and dry (but not nearly as hot as Phoenix). We are used to hot and dry and now that we have a house with AC (unlike Flagstaff, AZ) no heat or humidity is too unbearable for us.

Yesterday we went to the Mesker Evansville Zoo yesterday and had fun checking it all out. There were so many great animal exhibits and plants to view. Our favorite was the Amazonia exhibit because it was so beautifully landscaped and it allowed for great access to the animals.

After visiting the Amazonia exhibit I was really wondering how all the tropical plants can survive in this climate. The zoo had so many cannas, elephant ear and other tropical plants that shouldn’t be able to live year round here. So many businesses and homes in the Evansville area also have these same tropical plants everywhere so how is this possible?

According to the national gardening association our USDA zone for Evansville is Zone: 6A so plants that can’t handle cold winters shouldn’t be growing here. Unless everyone rushes out and digs them up and stores them during the cold weather.

Now these tropical plants are EVERYWHERE here in Evansville and I just can’t imagine that everyone runs out and digs them up before the first frost. That is just too much work and hassle and I just don’t believe that is what people actually do.

Well I better get going now. N has been anticipating seeing the fall decor go up and I have been putting it off for a while now. Over the weekend we visited Rural King and snagged some clearance mums to make our doorstep too like fall. Now I need to dig out the rest of the fall decor and get things decorated!

Don’t hesitate to finger your flowers or shake them! Ha…

I know, strange headline huh? It’s for real though, I have tomatoes growing inside my home. They are in a window box and are a result of some cuttings we took. The tomato plants began flowering and we would “finger the flowers” or gently shake them to pollinate them since bees and humming birds are not in my house feeding from the flowers as they normally would outdoors.

Lots of plants require polination before they can set fruit, without pollination fruit will not set.

One of every three bites you take comes from a plant pollinated by wild pollinators.

Our tomatoes have been especially slow to set fruit this summer. Many are concerned about the dramatic decrease in the bee population because bees are our natural pollinators. Slow setting fruit has been linked to the decrease in bee population.

Tomatoes and Zucchini are our favorite, easiest vegetables to grow here in Flagstaff, AZ and we were looking forward to enjoying some fresh grown vegetables before we move. We weren’t sure if our plants would set fruit before we leave and this has been a bummer for us.

So, noticing the small developing fruit on my indoor and outdoor tomatoes today was super exciting for me. We also have some zucchini fruit setting right now. Woho our plants were pollinated! I would like to think that fingering and shaking the flowers has helped in the fruit development and I can’t wait for some fresh vegetables!

Oh and thanks to the bloggy giveaway I won a $10.00 starbuks gift card from The Adventures of Me. We are telling all our family and friends to buy us starbucks and walmart gift cards as going away presents.

We plan to use them to buy food and liquid crack (starbucks) while we are on the way to Indiana. Plus we have T-Mobile internet access at starbucks locations so we will be buying coffee while we blog and check our emails anyway. This $10.00 gift card is going to help us buy 2 free coffee drinks, yay!

If you feel inclined to contribute a few dollars to help us during the move:

Here are some more of my garden photos, have a great weekend!

My lemon cucumber plant sets fruit

My lemon cucumber plant sets fruit

My tomato plant sets fruit

My tomato plant sets fruit

My zucchini plant sets fruit

My zucchini plant sets fruit

Birthday photos shared!

I promised to post some photos from my birthday and I try to live up to my promises! Since I got plants galore you will be subjected to a slew of bulb information and photos but don’t run away yet! We also have some adorable baby photos and some yummy fondue photos to share.

First, I compiled a list of the plants I got, plugged them in to my Dave’s Garden Journal with photos so I could remember what got planted where in a few months. It’s so easy to forget what you have and where you put it when you have a garden addiction like I do!

Here is my niece who came with my mom to stay with us for my birthday. She is the most well behaved baby I have ever been around and she loves the camera!

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Here we are at Wupatki National Monument inside one of the ruins. I wasn’t quite ready for the photo to be taken (as you can see) but it’s still priceless.

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Here is a photo of us eating fondue on my birthday. It was yummy and so much fun!

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We took my mother and niece out to Grand Falls for fun, we of course got a group photo of us in front of the waterfall.

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And here are the photos I took of my newly sprouted crocus. They have surfaced in a variety of colors and locations. We are really enjoying their progress and beauty and thought you might also.

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Woho… The crocus are in bloom!

Yellow Crocus

That means gardening fun is about to begin for us! The crocus blooms are a beautiful yellow and are quite cheerful. They are kind of short, like they were planted too deep but it still so great to see them even if they are short.

Do you have any early spring bulbs that are blooming yet? I hope so because I am dying for spring time!

box-of-personal-information.jpgSo, now that the ice is melting and the bulbs are blooming we are able to get into the large box of crap that was left behind by the people who lived here before us. Guess what we found? Personal documents and credit cards, can you believe that?

Teeni was just talking about how we all need to take steps to protect our personal information and then I find some poor schmucks personal information and a credit card just sitting in a box outside (that was buried in the snow) by the front door of the home we are renting.

Be responsible with your personal information guys! Shred documents that you no longer need so that nobody can obtain your info.. That way you are protected.

Once while we were living in an apartment complex we found a complete computer sitting by the trash can. We grabbed it thinking we could use parts off of it and realized it still had all this personal information on it.

The computer actually belonged to the apartment complex manager. It had the tenants personal information on it, rental contracts, notices etc.. We reported it and were furious.

Folks, if the personal information you are responsible for (yours or someone else’s) mistakenly gets into the wrong hands lives can be ruined. Be responsible and be careful!