Monday, March 31, 2008

And we have a setter!

A Silver Laced Wyandotte setter, that is.

As of today, one of our lovely hens is setting over a cozy nest of eggs! How exciting is that? Hopefully, within 21 - 28 days we'll have some babies. Photos coming soon.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ms. Plum

This is our plum tree, one week ago.

What a difference seven days can make!

Finally. New compost bins.

The pictures speak for themselves. I don't make Bird do all the work. It just looks that way.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Aging gracefully in this cosmetic culture?

When exactly did the term "age gracefully" become so twisted? When did it become fashionable to pull out every stop in the effort to make yourself as plastic and 'polyurethaned' as possible? Please tell me when did becoming wise and weathered turn into a 'bad' thing?

I watched a show on television the other night, which is rarely a good thing to begin with, called "Secret Lives of Women". It was like the proverbial train wreck. I simply could not turn away. I've heard of people becoming addicted to plastic surgery before, but this program really hit it home for me, and started me thinking, rather painfully, that too many people in society today have forgotten - or never got the memo in the first place - about real beauty, and what it means to "age gracefully".

I don't believe aging gracefully equates staying as "young looking" as possible for as long as you can, at any cost. It does not mean spending your entire nest egg on plastic surgery, and truly, many people end up bankrupt because of it. A naturally beautiful woman on the show I watched spent so much money on unnecessary plastic surgery that she ended up financially strapping her family and forcing them into selling their gorgeous home and relocating. It was almost like she just couldn't stop herself.

Don't get me wrong. My father had a near-fatal auto accident in 1981, and cosmetic surgeons had to replace his face, literally, from a photo. There is a time and place for this kind of surgery, and for my father, I am grateful for it.

But what has happened to natural beauty? Where is the joy in weathered skin and wise gray locks? I stopped coloring my hair three years ago. I'm 37 and maybe 30% gray. It is incredible to me how many people - men and women - have asked me why in the world don't I color my hair; it would make me look so much younger. The stares alone are startling. On the other hand, there are a blessed few who smile or even offer a compliment, but my point is, I am disturbed that it is even an issue. It shouldn't make me an oddball because I've stopped using chemicals on my hair.

I am certainly not criticizing those who choose to color their hair or anything else in the name of beauty. I started coloring my own hair when I was 17 years old. The articles I read on the dangers of chemical hair color (there *are* healthy alternatives, including henna!) and certain other beauty products over the years compelled me to change my ways. You make your own decisions. Make them with intelligence and confidence, believe in yourself, and regardless of your choices, stand your ground. Be true to You.

To me, aging gracefully is allowing Mother Nature to hold you, to turn you in her hands and leave the memories and mementos, the good and the bad of your life all over your body and soul. It's about leaving behind childish fears and facing the future with experience and wisdom. It's about the life in the lines of your hands and face, and the laughter and hardship there for all the world to see. It's about secret, knowing smiles and quiet reverence. Aging gracefully is taking pride in the lines you've earned, and not being ashamed of the gray which gently softens the light and hard edges around you. How much precious time do we waste in our relentless and useless attempts to backpedal into our youth? Allowing ourselves to age gracefully is not giving in or giving up. It does not mean you must become someone you don't like or want to be, nor must it mean an end to the fun and frivolity of life. It's accepting the life we've led with dignity and honor, embracing time, reveling in the moments of our lives, and hopefully, sharing with future generations the important things we learn along the way.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March Gardening Chores

Holy cow, there's a lot of truth to the phrase, "March comes in like a lion." Once again I got ahead of myself and made an elaborate production of mulching my cabbage bed with a huge lawn bag of leaves, and once again March blew every last one of them to Kingdom Come in one fell swoop. Ok. So maybe it happened twice. Whatever. It looked great for a few days!

For now I have onions, cabbages and broccoli bedded down, and will be planting lettuce, spinach, kale and collard beds today while the signs are still in fertile Taurus and the moon is waxing. Perfect for leafy vegetables! I've created a handy 2008 Moon Sign Gardening Calendar HERE, if you're interested.

Once again, we live in Zone 7, so adjust accordingly.

Chores for March:
The Farmer's Almanac says it's time to garden when a lump of dirt squeezed in your hand breaks apart easily. So .. are you ready?

**Start vegetable seeds and annual seedlings in flats (or 6-8 weeks before last frost date, which really is impossible to measure around here, where the weather can jump 50 degrees in one day). Some good choices would be cabbage, broccoli, lettuce (yes, I've put out these plants, but I couldn't stop myself), tomatoes & peppers. Good annuals to start now are larkspur, zinnias and allysum. Be very careful to mark/identify all of your seeds, indoors and out. It stinks to have have to wait until a plant matures to find out what it is, just because you didn't mark it and forgot. Not that I know this from personal experience, or anything.
**Sew some sweet peas, right into the ground! It isn't too early, no matter the weather.
**Set out pansies. I LOVE pansies. They're so sweet and beautiful. And they're tough little suckers, so they can take the cold.
**Harvest Chickweed! Yum.
**Plant deciduous trees (e.g. redbud, maple, dogwood, holly, magnolia & oak), and shrubs (e.g. forsythia, barberry, witch hazel, rose of sharon & butterfly bush).
**Prune berry bushes to allow for new spring growth.
**Spread manure over the garden, and into the compost. Woo Hoo!
**Remove mulch from perennials as the month progresses, and compost. It's time to start allowing the soil to slowly warm up.
**Stock up on materials for plant cover during sudden or unexpected late frosts or freezes. Recycle old plastic pots, plastic plug trays, milk jugs cut in half, etc. for just such occasions. And watch the weather, so you'll know when to prepare.
**If you have access to wood ashes, now is a good time to sprinkle them around berry bushes and fruit trees.
**Repair garden fences, trellises, and border materials because spring growth will make it a lot harder on you later.

Spring is almost here!! :D

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March is National Nutrition Month

And as usual, Dr. Andrew Weil has some fantastic advice on his website about food safety. If you've got the time, browse his site. You'll be glad you did!

I am a firm believer that poor and inadequate nutrition is at or near the root of most health problems found today. It isn't always easy or economical to eat whole foods, or at the very least foods as close to their natural state as possible, but it can be done with planning, patience, and a ton of perserverance. Eating healthy shouldn't be so complicated. It can save your life. I have to drive over 50 miles one way to the nearest Whole Foods Market or Greenlife Grocery, and with current fuel prices that trip costs me $30 just for gas. Not what I consider economical. Luckily there are alternatives. Local produce stands generally offer seasonal, locally grown foods at reasonable prices, and some even accept special farm market senior citizen and WIC coupons and food stamps, so if you have one in your area, there's really no excuse for not eating well, at least some of the time. Do a little research, ask around, or visit your local county extension office and find out if there are farmers in your area who sell at markets or roadside stands. And if you have a patch of dirt in your yard big enough to plant a cabbage head in, give it a try. You might stumble upon something that will sustain you physically, mentally and emotionally for the rest of your life. A garden!


We almost fell out in the floor with shock, but when we woke up last Saturday morning it was snowing! I realize this isn't news to most folks who live above the Mason-Dixon line, but around here it's front page business. The kids actually made cute little snowmen and had snowball fights for the first time this winter. There wound up being more snow on the ground than is in the photo (that's my father-in-law's school bus parked across the road), which is a shot of my front yard, but not much. We haven't had a "real" snow here since 1998!

The City Biddy Hen House

Here on the farm we are fortunate to have our own free-range laying hens and enjoy fresh organic eggs every day! If you have an itch to keep your own hens but have limited space, check out this article my best friend Melissa found on about building your own compact, portable hen house! Noisy, wake-the-neighbors roosters not required, unless you're just absolutely dying to hatch some chicks.

Bookmark and Share