Monday, November 10, 2014

New Chicken Fence

We said goodbye to the "chicken ghetto" and finally built a much nicer fence to surround the chicken coop.  While I am always happy to reuse things from around the yard, the old fence was cobbled together in a rather haphazard fashion and was completely pointless since many a hen (probably every hen) was escaping.  

My only prerequisite for the new fence was that it be far more cute than the last one.  So far, so good! We'll need to build the permanent door in the spring, but even the make-shift door looks better than before.  Not to mention I can open it, unlike before.  

The fence is about five and half feet tall, which is perfect because try though she might "Damn Chicken" cannot fly to freedom anymore.  Sorry, that's her name, and she named herself.  

You can see the compost bin located inside this little paddock. I am hoping to reduce the size of the bin come Spring, it's currently a bit too deep for me to turn with the pitch fork, my arms only reach so far. The chickens are often lounging inside the bin, pecking for bits of kitchen scrap, turning the top layer as they go.   

I have a plan for spring planting around this here fence!  I already have a Clematis growing up the side of the coop run, but with this sturdier fence, I hope to grow some roses up the south side.  Also, springtime will herald a new a fence for the garden area as well.

Regardless of the time of year, I seem to always be dreaming and making plans for my next homesteading project.  I dream of goats!  And little sheep, and milk cows . . . 

Monday, November 3, 2014

The November Garden

Gardening season is just about complete at my house. There are still a few odds and ends to attend to.  I snapped a few photos last week just before the flu came knocking at my door.  

I started my leeks from seeds back in February.  It amazes me these glorious things erupt from such a tiny seed. They will be eaten with much pleasure in the coming days.  The carrots and parsnips will stay in the ground until needed. Have you ever tasted a carrot fresh from the snow-covered ground? They become even sweeter as they rest in the earth.  The best parsnips I've ever had (and I have quite an affinity for them) were dug up in the spring after spending the winter tucked in their beds.  

My most precious apple, my only apple.  This tree was planted in March, so I did not expect any fruit, but my lovely little tree gifted me a single apple.  It's a Pink Lady variety. 

Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans left on the vines to dry out. We collected the seeds just before the first freeze.  I left them out on a cloth for a few days just to be certain they were dry before storing them for next season.  The remaining withered beans are being enjoyed by the chickens, the girls are doing an excellent job of tearing the vines down for me in the process.  My hens certainly earn their keep!  

Of course, Meredith is working her little yard, too.  She recently removed the herbs and cleared some fallen leaves. Her animals are starting to stay close to home since it's getting dark so early.  I can't wait to see if she decorates for the holidays.  

Still so much dill to be had in the garden, too!  It's eye candy, so much green still to see, such glorious scent and flavor willingly given.  

The Butternut squash did exceptionally well again this year.  The vines twisted and turned through the herb garden and under the grape trellis.  Once the squash was harvested, the hens got to work, the vines already broken down and worked into the soil.  Have I mentioned I love having chickens do my chores for me?  

The falling leaves are being used for mulch atop the freshly planted garlic, holding them tight until that day when Mother Nature tells me it's time to start again.  

And now, a nice rest.  Well, until the seed catalogs arrive! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Blogging and Life

I am still waiting for the arrival of that inspiration (or thread, as my last post indicated) to post regularly.  After a bit of reflection, I honestly believe that which I do in my daily life is because of those gifts I have been blessed with; I believe in God, and I believe He has blessed me for a reason. I am trying to find a new way to share it all, but I have that flickering doubt that no one wants to know what I'm up to.

The way I see it, blogs have always been personal websites, but so many have morphed into a platform to sell and promote other things.  Rare is the blog the remains a personal journal. I do not despair of any of them; life moves on, blogs mutate.  I have also changed, and various aspects of my lifestyle have certainly mutated.  I liked where I was, but I like where I am.  I am much the same as I ever was, but I am gratefully older and wiser.

When I first started writing here, it was to inspire daily writing for the English class I was taking at the local university.  At the time, I barely knew what a blog was.  Upon review, I still don't know what a blog is!  As for now, this blog will remain full of personal reflection about my daily life, my activities and thoughts, ideas, failures and successes, and likely a fair bit of nonsense!

Here is a sampling of what I do:

I still keep house!  I'm still that same stay-at-home mom, but have added a dog to that mix.  I've lived in this house for 12 years now, with no plans (until retirement) to leave.

I still cook from scratch, still baking bread daily.  Bread is life, I do not argue with such wisdom!

I continue to fuss over my gardens (now in the plural).  Of course, my gardens are mostly put to bed for the winter, but I had to include some lovely photos of my successes.  Broccoli was new for me this year, and worked well.  The above peach tree finally died.  We battled Peach Borers for 3 years, but the poor little tree couldn't take it anymore.  We have planted another peach tree, and hope to plant yet another in the spring.  We have four heirloom apple trees on order which will arrive mid-March. I'm obsessed with apples, and am thrilled to finally start my mini-orchard on my .40 acre lot.  :)

I stay up to date and educated about herbalism and plant medicine, growing much of what I use.  I'm a big believer in healing oneself at home if at all possible. Why run to the market for Bismuth when you could make a strong cup of ginger tea or reach for the ginger tincture you made last month?  I have successfully managed my own menopause symptoms with my herbal knowledge.

And there are still chickens, currently a dozen. We have recently built a new fence for the chicken paddock, and have plans to change the coop design. Chickens, oddly enough, have changed a great deal of how I see the world of food.

I took up quilting a year ago.  Here is my latest sitting on my favorite chair.

Although I am a happy home-body, I do get out on occasion. I'm a big supporter of the opera and symphony.  I saw Madame Butterfly a few weeks ago.

And I read, and read, and read.  This is a photo of a few of my gardening and cooking books, but I read so much more.  Lately, I cannot get enough non-fiction, my mind craves truth.  My nightstand holds a stack of theology books, my coffee table has a stack of gardening books.  Since I happen to find God in gardening, I suppose I could count those as theological, too!  I just finished reading If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis, which I honestly loved.  I'm also reading Backyard Farming on an Acre.  I also have several poetry books a friend gave me to read, and I like to read a few pages each day, along with a bible study guide and my daily philosophy readings.  I know, it's quite an eclectic grouping!

Ok, this post was long-ish, but it feels good to share some examples of my life as it is now.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fire and Thread

For the past few weeks I have been searching for the perfect color of thread to stitch together my thoughts.  You see, I needed the perfect color to act as a segue, something to bind my ideas and offer entry to the next.  I cannot find that thread, but I still want to add some thoughts here in the interim in the hopes of stitching them into the story at a later time.

My last post hinted at drastic changes in my spiritual life.  I've always felt a simmering spirituality, but it has never arrived at a full boil.  I have searched for that source of heat that might enable things to bubble.  I  threw myself into my religion, which left me feeling confused and worse off than before.  I tried yoga, which stirred the pot but cut my spirit in payment.  I found no source I could go to for help in lighting that internal fire.  I desperately wanted to feel the warmth.

One could argue, and I did, that I was practicing the wrong religion (whatever that means), and practicing the incorrect form of yoga, or that I didn't have enough faith or that I just wasn't "getting it." The past year I have studied my own reactions to these very thoughts, leaving no question, however difficult, unexplored.

If my religion leaves me cold and lost in disbelief, why do I stay?  Good question, and one I've looked at long and hard.  I made a list of everything I just couldn't swallow, listing those items of doctrine I felt were not true.  Reviewing this list helped me to see that I needed something to change. For years I've been focused on what I don't believe, so I redirected that focus to what I do believe. Through this, I've discovered my beliefs are strong, and that was a glorious thing to feel!

Three weeks ago I sat talking with a man who said the most wonderful thing to me which had the ring of truth. He explained that faith needs an object, you simply cannot have faith in faith.  Paraphrasing scripture, faith alone does not save, faith alone is dead unless it has works (James 2:17).  This has helped tremendously. Knowing what I believe, and feeling that truth, is helping me find my way out of this religious tumult I've felt for so many years.

I'm choosing my own path, following my own beliefs and my own discovered truth.  I hope to one day find the courage to express how I feel without being so vague.  I could really use the aforementioned thread, but I also know that when the time is right for me to be specific, the words will be there waiting.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Glass of Water

I have hinted here that I am in the midst of a spiritual change in my life; or rather, I have recognized myself to be someone and something completely different than I have been previously named. I have come to know the nature of my heart and I need to be able to live within that realm.  

I have been at odds with myself for years, my own spirituality not precisely lining up with my religion: Square peg, round hole. I had a mental filing cabinet that was jam packed with questions.  Nine years ago the drawers of that filing cabinet wouldn't close for their fullness, and I could no longer function with bits of myself - for those questions were me, they came from within - hidden away. 

So, for these past 9 years have explored books and texts, been reflective and thoughtful, I have studied various religions as well as adopting a yogic lifestyle in an attempt to discover my path, all while being grateful for the path I am already on.  

To paraphrase a passage I recently read (at the moment I cannot recall the book or the author, which is why I paraphrase), when we are thirsty, we do not go to books to read and discover what water is and how it functions; when we are thirsty, we drink.  

This thirsty soul has been handed a glass of water.  

This weekend I have the opportunity to drink that water, and I am honestly frightened. This is a big step for me. I have yet to officially accept the proffered water, but the more I think about it, the more determined I feel.  

It's silly, those things that are keeping me from accepting: Driving into downtown Salt Lake City on one of the busiest traffic days of the year - I thoroughly dislike driving.  Parking downtown! Ack!  Not knowing where to go, how to get where I need to be, not knowing which literal door to walk through, not knowing were to find the one who is helping me . . . etc. I keep telling myself my car has GPS, my soul doesn't, but upon reflection, I think it just might. 

Funny, the things that slow us down.  It's just fear showing up, disguised.  I know this is vague, I haven't actually mentioned where I'm going and what I'll be doing. I'm deliberately writing with transparency to help myself make up my mind, to make sense of the fear rising up.  

I hope to have an experience to write of come Monday.