Tuesday, May 22, 2018


We were building this the last two days out of 1 inch hexagon chicken wire and 1/2 inch 600 psi schedule 40 pipe.  We glued the panels together, then zip tied the 4 foot chicken wire to the frames.  There is one corner open that we can close with bungee cords, and we will be working on a netting roof to clip on.  This way our chickens have a mobile place we can move them around - like a chicken tractor.  Mark is going to be working on a house and nesting box for them that is light enough we can move it around with the pen.  The pen is also expandable this way, so we can add more panels and make more space if we need it.  Then our chickens can get plenty of grass and weeds and bugs and we can move it when an area gets too sparse for them.  The nesting box and house will give them a place for shade and to get out of the rain.  I have this weekend off and it shouldn't rain until then.  They still fit inside their barrel cage for roosting but they are getting to the point they need more space and they need gravel and grass.

Friday, May 18, 2018

bit o bits

It is officially the last day of school - Esme was off this morning and will be back on the bus this afternoon.

I made a thing.. a mesh bag.  I haven't made anything in a while, and I wanted to use up this remnant yarn I had untangled and balled up the other day.  The colors could have been better matched.. but I ran out of the other green and there was a skein of the camo to use up, too.  It fits my tablet and thus, many books - and could probably carry lunch or frisbees etc etc..  I wanted it to sit down on my hip, and it does.

Mark rescued a mud turtle the other day that was trying to lay eggs by our fence.  He said she was digging in the leaves with her back legs and dripping 'snot'... so he was pretty sure that was her intention.  Not a good place for it, though, Mama!  The dogs were doing their 'snakebark'... they can't tell the difference between turtle and snake.  They really thought he was going to chase it and were confused it didn't 'run' as snakes do.  Mark picked it up and put it in the woods a bit down away, towards where it could find water and a better place to start a family.  The depth of field he caught on the pictures is beautiful, and the expressions on the dogs' faces, as well.

Catahoula leopard dogs - at least all we've ever had, have a very distinctive 'snake bark'.. it is short and choppy and repetitive and different than they bark for anything else.  The problem is they can't tell a turtle from a snake.  It all just smells 'reptile' to them.  They look at you like "These 'rock snakes' are very strange.. can you explain those?"

Monday, May 14, 2018


Esme is off to picnic day.  I bought her a pair of Bermuda shorts, hopefully they meet the code.  They were the longest non-leggings I could find.  Things are coming up right and left in the garden.  Morning glory seeds I planted just a few days ago are up in one place, but not in others, and zinnia and cosmos seeds are trying, as well.  The borage is still alive.  The  corn and beans have not popped up.. its over due for the corn.  I do have a few cucumbers!

The rose bush bloomed!

 And the  centerfold lily, too :)

I bought a Jarv active track pedometer - the kind you wear on your wrist - and I think I have the weight and stride settings done correctly.. but I know it is not accurate.  Less than 5,000 steps per day is sedentary..and I'm active running across the store, up and down ladders, carrying stuff.. I know our steps in the house are 23 steps.. and it has me at less than 14 after two trips.  So.. its not a loss (I broke the last two within days just USING them.. they failed completely).  It is giving me between 2,800 and 3,100 steps per day over three days.  So, I'm going to use that as a benchmark.  If I get on the higher side of that I'm doing good.  If I'm on the lower side, then I needed to step up a bit.  It'll still be a good five dollar purchase *heh*  I guess I should have thought better of that cheap price, eh?

We are going into town to look at some trees Mark saw on sale.

 Peach trees, and a plum
We caught these on the clearance for about 10 dollars each... when they were 23.00 to  begin with.

Friday, May 11, 2018

garden pics

 The Aquilegia (columbine) plant is getting  ready to bloom.

 Dox has taken up her place as Garden Guardian Cat, lounging in piles of fencing we have stored under the tree just before the garden entrance.

 This is what the garden at the pole looks like now

 ?The Knockout rose is starting to bud, too

A little snail that was next to the columbine.  He put his eyes out and looked at me.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

pole garden bits

I bought a bleeding heart root on clearance, as well as lilies in four varieties.. one unnamed, one 'Commander in Chief', one 'Centerfold' and one 'Red Dutch'.  I planted the liatris bulbs as well and the assorted daylilies we had bought from Gilbert Wild and Sons.  I hope the daylilies got in the ground in the right time.. I soaked them like I read to in a book, but only once through each, not for an extended period of time.  Then I poured water on the whole garden.  We planted the elephant ears but they had begun to mold.. so I' not sure if they will do what they need to. 

We will need to mulch the lilies if they are to survive the next winter.  They are not buried as deep as they might should have been, as they were already starting to sprout.

I should go out and dig the holes for the rose bush and the viburnum.  But, I have to work late tonight and I don't have that much ambition.  I have tomorrow off.. so I am hoping they will wait one more day.  I might have enough ambition to go and scratch out a few places for basil and catnip and whatnot.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Sunday, May 06, 2018

pole garden at Shepard Lane Garden

 We got up our ambition today and made a new garden we had been talking about.  It is to be a home for our viburnum, and a rose bush and a few other things.  We also have a good collection of bulbs we would like to put in, and some climbing vines.

 There is a fence in the back of the middle bed for climbing things.

And this is how we've left it for the day - four zones and lots of plans for what to put in them.

driving lessons!

Friday, May 04, 2018


 Our chickens are getting bigger.
We took them outside to clean the cage.
They are starting to get the cinnamon colored feathers their breed is named for. 
Cinnamon Queen chickens

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

garden bits

Planted some of the seedling tomatoes, and some seed corn and asparagus today.  Put more potting soil in the holes around the garden and gave it fertilizer.  It was such a nice evening out.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Shade Garden

 The shade garden is pretty full, now.
The two extra Frances Miller Hosta (clearance stuff) that we ordered with the daylilies (not planted yet) have been put on either side of the one that I planted four years ago.(or so).  Esme chose a new plant, Lamb's Ears, which I planted in the center back.  I found a columbine (Aquilegia) for a dollar on the clearance rack and I put it just below the white pipe.  The pipe is to mark the tiger lily bulbs I bought at the rain sale and as you see below, one of them is starting to come up, so that is amazing!

rain sale : There were carts and carts of bulbs that had been outside in a rain storm at the WM the other week and I bought two bags at two fifty each one of tiger lilies, the other of gladiolus.

 The tiger lily bulbs and the columbine plant

OK, and here is the real splurge.
I bought this and paid over twenty dollars for it.
It is a viburnum plant, also known as a Chinese Snowball.  And I have a mathematical love for this plant.  Years ago (I'll have to find the art) I stopped through on my way between classes at North Dakota State University NDSU and drew one of these as it emerged from winter dormancy all the way to flowering.  It was beautiful, seeing the way it unfolded day after day.  And I then made a printmaker's book called 'Are you a Viburnum?', because day after day I wrote a sentence or two asking what it was, noting things about it.. and finally, I found it in a plant book and knew the name.

I am excited to have one of our own!  I kind of made the puppy eyes at Mark to find one.. buy one, order one.. and then our local Lowe's store had one and he said 'go ahead'... I normally wouldn't pay that much for it.. but now we have a viburnum.  I hope it does well.  We have plans to make a new bed around our power pole and put elephant ears and this plant in it as the inaugural bits.  But, that won't be for a week or so.  So, I hope it does okay sitting next to our shade garden and getting watered until then.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

universal bits

I used to have this thing on my blog I could see the visitors and where they were from and when they  visited.  It's gone... but maybe you're still out there, I just don't see you anymore.  I write to look back on years later.. to wonder who I was and what was happening and what would be.  But if you're out there, thanks.. I'm glad you're listening and maybe enjoying things. I don't even think the comments script works anymore..so there's that, too.

I get deep-think sometimes.  I want to explore the depths of math and chemistry.. I want to learn more about plants.  I want to time travel because there are never enough hours in the day.  I like having lots of stuff to rattle around in my head, because then I have a choice of what I listen to rattling amongst everything that is in there. 

I fight against the minimalist.. who wants to scrap everything down to a bare white room - and the hoarder who has everything she might possibly need but she can't find it.  I'm the guru in the middle, trying to find the balance.  It's this way for information, for things, for feelings.  I'm never in just one place even when I'm standing still. 

I read Esme's book 'Lone Wolf', and it was good.  I ordered the second one 'Shadow Wolf', and I'll probably read that one, too.  I'm reading the 'Essex Serpent'.. and I don't know yet if I like it or not.  I downloaded two kids books by Rick Riordan about Apollo being condemned by Zeus to live as a teenager on Earth.  That looks like it will be good -- will get to it after I decide to finish or stash the Essex Serpent.  It's been on my wait list for a while... the writing is good, but I'm just not sure if it is going where I want to go right now.

I found my Math Girls book... I might have to crack that again.  I liked it, but tanked it for doing other things.

We're taking the girls out today - Esme is getting ready to meet her friend.  There is a carnival downtown.  And then we have plants to put in the ground.  I do love the garden.  I wish it was warmer and things would grow this year.  I wish I had more time to watch things grow, to draw them, and study them... but it is really about what do I do with those hours in between right now... and sometimes I don't really know what to do with them because everything feels like it would take too long to get started only to have to stop.

Friday, April 27, 2018


Still reveling, after seven months, in how my 'echo ear' works so well for Welsh, but hasn't worked that well for other languages.  I can still feel it when I play a sentence out loud - I don't have to read it on the screen to remember what was said, even when the sentence gets long.. the pieces are in my inner ear ready to be digested.  Probably because Welsh and English are very similar in structure.. compared to Romance languages.

My dictionary came today.  I've already looked up several words :)  I have a paper tablet that I am writing down other words in, dictionary style, that I come across in TV programs and newspaper articles and forum articles.  That way I write it, see it, and translate it there, too.  I have a Welsh tween book called 'Na, Nell!' coming soon, ..well, by the end of next month.  That will be exciting, too.

I've been ordering Esme more books - and we rearranged her bookshelf to put them there.  Mark helped me cut a new board for a new shelf on top of her clothes rack so she can keep her current book, sketchbook and other special things up near her bed at night without worrying about them falling down to the floor.

Our hosta and daylily and a few other things came today.  We are planning on taking the girls to a parade tomorrow and then planting them in the garden.

I've read The Hazel Wood, by Melisa Albert.  It was intriguing and creepy and hard to put down because of the wonder at the same time.  Very good.  Not kid material, though.  You'll be slightly afraid of Twice-Killed Katherine jumping out of the nearest alleyway or bush for a day or so after reading it... I'm also reading Esme's book 'Lone Wolf' part of the Wolves of the Beyond series from Ga'Hoole owls universe.  It's pretty good.  She'll like it, even though it gets a bit deep in a few places.  I've also ordered her the third Foxcraft book, called 'The Mage'.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

chickens moving on up


The chickens are moving on up to the bigger cage - the one that Esme and Mark built for the rat and the hamster.  They will be warm and safe here until they feather out and we can build something better for them outside.  For posterity : they are 'Cinnamon Queen' variety.

I've been busy today.  I went through Esme's old clothes again (because she just tends to hide them or stack them when they don't fit or are torn) and also moved up her bookshelf in her room with all of the new 'older' books we've been getting.  It fell once - and I had to pound the supports down into the standards on the wall and lighten the load.

Where the shelf was before was exactly at 'sit down on the couch and smack yourself on it' level.. and we needed it a little higher.  She has been sitting there tucking up with me to watch Welsh cartoons at night, and I hope we might get to reading again.

Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly was excellent - I read it on my Kindle today.  I'm reading her Wolves of the Beyond 'Lone Wolf' book by Kathryn Lasky, too - before she does.. and it seems like it will be a really good match for her.   I have 'The Hazel Wood' by Melissa Albert on my Kindle now, it was highly reviewed.

I need to get her 'The Mage' by Inbali Iserles and a copy of the Hello Universe but both of them are a bit high right now as they are new releases.  Have them on lists and alerts if one gets cheap.

Our plants arrive on Friday!  We had ordered hosta and day lilies and some other ornamentals from Gilbert H. Wild and sons.   And it is supposed to be nice this weekend.  yay!

Lucy thinks the chickens are hers to look after.  She has been sitting here with Esme and watching them.  She had to sniff every other one as Mark put them from one cage to the other.  She said they didn't smell right on the tail end.  *ha*  People raise strange puppies, apparently.

Monday, April 23, 2018

garden between the rain storms

 I planted some gladiolus bulbs and nasturtiums and morning glories here.

 This is the hosta garden.  I planted some tiger lily bulbs near the white post.

 Another shot of the tree in the garden .. still trying to find out exactly what it is.
Update : Through some help on Gardenweb it is a Prunus serotina, or a Wild Black Cherry tree.  

My white and green hosta is beginning to come up.  I am glad to see it.  I think this is a full two weeks behind the other one?  I'll have to remember that so I'm not so worried later.. I wonder if it is the age or size of the hosta or the variety that affects how early it comes up?

the bits

I have a backlog of library books to read.  It has been raining cats and dogs outside.  Our baby chickens are growing so fast we will need to make an enclosure for them soon.  We have ordered some plants and seeds that will come in the mail soon, as well as a Welsh dictionary for me and some dog books for Esme.

I've been watching 'Gwaith Cartref' on S4c to learn more Welsh.  It is a drama about teacheras and students at aWelsh-speaking school (ysgol yn Cymraeg).  It has a lot of colloquial speech in it - which is good - and subtitles in Welsh so I can catch what words they are actually speaking in case I'm mishearing.

I have these next two days off.  I'm still not entirely better from this sinus stuff.. and the weather is not helping.  I feel like I almost get rid of it and then it comes back.  Now one of my ears feels a bit plugged and I have this weird cold-surface feeling around my chest that I don't like.

identified!  This is a wild black cherry tree, also called Prunus serotina in the Latin.   We were in the right family!

This is a tree that has been growing in the front of the garden.  We have to chop it down or move it - looked it up and the closest thing I can find is a sweet cherry family... prunus avicum.  It does seem to fit some of those characteristics.. I can't remember if it had any fruit on it last year - but it has grown to about chest-high in a few years in the herb garden right beside the fence.   The goat is trying hard to eat it and getting her head stuck in the fence.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Garden update

The soil is still cold a few inches down.  But I bought some flowers anyway, and put them out in the garden.  I'm sure I'll have a sun burn tomorrow.   I reserved the sweet pepper we bought for later in the week.  The biggest thing is I got down on my hands and knees and cleared out all of the weeds from the flower garden and located all the actual 'plants'.  Some of the weeds I tend to actually like - but I cleared them, too, this year. I replanted cucumbers and prepared the lettuce pots for a second go (but they got too watered down, so plant them another day).  I planted lettuce and purslane in the raised beds.  I also bought a hosta and Mark bought a coleus for the shade garden.  We are loving our clover!

 There is a wild chicken alert to the left.  And a 'Take me Home because I Said So' hosta to the right.

 planted lantana, pink petunias, pink dianthus (porkchop plants), red and yellow marigolds and a Snapdragon is hiding behind one of those white pipes.  The pipes are marking what might be an Asiatic lily and another set of dianthus that could have seeded itself last year... it sure looks like it, and there isn't any other elsewhere to say this is a common weed.

 We had planted seed marigolds in the places where I now put store bought ones, as none had sprouted.

 Our lush field of clover..

 mint and lemon balm and oregano (which is the green mass in the flower bed)

Something - I have to guess the wind, tore the roof off the chicken house.  We have to think a bit about how to fix it best.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

bit o bits

I've increased my Welsh tv watching (via Youtube) to four :
Abadas (the children's show)
Hinterland (British crime drama, but mostly what is on Youtube are interviews)
Tecwyn y Tractor another kids show
and Codi Hwyl, a show about two guys sailing together on a tiny boat around Wales and Ireland.

Several of the chicks died because Gennet would not take to them and they got outside the henhouse and got cold and wet.  Two of those five survived and we warmed them up, dried them off and then Mark went and bought six more.  They are in a cage in Esme's room for now.  I have some wood and chicken wire we can build them a rabbit hutch type coop with.

I get tomorrow and the next day off.  And the weather is supposed to break - at least temporarily  into the 70s and 80s again.  I'm getting a little better with this cold stuff but it is still not giving up on the nose... which works its way to everywhere.

Making yellow split pea soup with kielbasa today to add that to my lunch (and then some it is a big pot)

Yellow split peas, handful of green (washed)
Chicken broth, then enough water to cover
2 potatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, diced

That is bubbling on low heat in the kitchen right now.
I'll add carrots and kielbasa to it later when it has reduced some.
I close at work one more time tonight.

Esme had no idea what I meant by 'closing' ... she was just thoroughly confused even after I tried to explain it twice.  She was having a crisis, though - her clothes weren't washed and I've been sick and closing at work this week and just haven't had time to go dig through her room and pull her laundry out - I did the laundry in the bathroom and our laundry but I don't see hers so I don't get to it until I have time or she tells me needs it.  She had to go to school in a pair with a torn knee this morning because I couldn't get a pair washed and dried in time... I know that is against school dress code but I didn't know what else to do.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Someone was hiding eggs

Our wild chicken - that wasn't laying eggs last year - started again.. and she wasn't using the chicken house (so much that we thought about changing it into a toolshed) and now she has a 'storybook nest' as Mark called it.  However, we have no rooster, so none of these are viable.  But we got an idea that could be terrible, (and sad) or it could work... so we paid twelve dollars for a half a dozen chicks and put them in right after taking the eggs out.

We got water and food for them in the house and a big log they can climb up to get back in the house if they fall out.  We'll see.... a few minutes ago Mark went out there and said she was back on the empty nest and they were drinking from the water container so she didn't kill them outright...

I put up this short fence around the beds to keep things out of it some..  We also have cataloupe (shown above) and watermelon and a few other seedlings coming up.

Esme and I planted cucumbers and catnip in the greenhouse today.