Sunday, May 19, 2019

Camping weekend

This weekend we went camping with a friend and her camping group at a little campground near us called Powder Mill Run.  It's a tiny privately owned campground on what used to be a working farm.  This was our first time camping at a place that was not a State Park so we weren't really sure what to expect. 

The whole campground was tucked into a little area surrounded by hills and trees.  There was a tiny stream, not more than 4 inches deep, right behind out campsite which was wonderful fun for the oldest and I.  He could splash around and throw rocks without me having to worry about him.  We found some fossils and some neat rocks.

The oldest found a tiny toad within an hour of us getting there.  We watched it for awhile and put it back where he found it.

The kids pretty much lived on cookies, potato chips and hot dogs for two days.  After all of the "healthy" food at home they were loving every minute of it.

I hung this renovated thrift-store find  up inside the doorway.  It was decoupaged with a map and ended up being a really perfect cubby things like wallets and keys.

The first morning we woke up to cold and rain.  Socks and shoes were soaked and I had to use the old plastic-bags over dry socks trick.  The clothesline was strung inside the camper and the heater turned on full blast to dry clothes. (If you're reading this dear former co-worker - it's the one you bought me for Christmas years ago- it gets the camper up to about 80 degrees in under 10 minutes. Thank you!)  The oldest took a long hike with his dad while the baby and I napped.  The wildlife at this place was amazing.  There were so many different kinds of birds to be seen even from our campsite.

I had purchased some new toys at the dollar store prior to the trip but the favorite activities turned out to be a red plastic cup (the youngest) and a thrift store transformer toy (the oldest).  Go figure. 
The weather quickly turned and it ended up being very hot and humid for the rest of the trip, thank goodness.  Great weather for being outside.

My husband went home after the first day.  With two little ones to keep track of by myself one of the other women camping jokingly called this a "divorceable offence'.  We did ok though.  Something that really helped was that we bought a pop-up changing room off of Amazon to use as a private bathroom for the littles.  It was a lifesaver since we don't have a bathroom in the camper and I couldn't fathom trying to take them  both to the public bathrooms 500x a day.

We did some exploring together.

We checked out who might be living under the old bark of this fallen tree.

And found a stag beetle! It was amazing! I've never seen one before.

Then the oldest smacked himself in the head with a saucer swing on the playground and got a huge bruise right between the eyes.  It doesn't look *too bad* and he did get over it quickly.

 Since the campground was nearby my dad and his lady friend came to spend the evening with us.  They brought wine and we had a great time sitting around the fire and visiting.  The kids went for a car right and fell asleep immediately.

The baby woke up as I was moving him into the camper.  He ended up being up until 10:30 at night, sitting around the fire waving a glow stick and babbling.....

... and woke up before sunrise.  

They both woke up before sunrise.  Like, 5 a.m. The youngest needing a dry diaper and the oldest screaming "my eye hurts!" in his sleep.  A bad dream.  The oldest went back to sleep and the baby gleefully took advantage of his sleeping brother, smacking him on the head repeatedly with a plastic brontosaurus.  Eventually I gave up and took him outside.  We were making coffee on the camp stove by 6:30. 

We played a bit more and finished breaking down our campsite.  Thanks to help from my friend watching the kids, hitching the camper went smoothly and were made it home around lunch without any drama. 

Now that we have the first trip of the season under our belts the camper is ready to go.  It took me three days prior to the trip to stock the camper with everything we would need but the now it's done and the next trip should just be a matter of firewood, food and clothing.  I'd really like to get the kids out doing this once a month during the summer.  We all had a great time.

Adventure awaits.  Every day.

Friday, May 17, 2019

What's new here?

One of the maple trees by the driveway is now sporting a swarm trap for honeybees.  All of the local beekeepers around here had severe or total losses this winter and most of the wild colonies we know of have died as well.  We do have honeybees here, not many, but some have been seen around the house.  Enough to hang a swarm trap on the property and hope that some bees will move in.  There are frames in the trap that will allow any bees to be moved into a hive easily. This has always been my dad's project.  No way do I want to be 15 feet up a ladder and dealing with a heavy box full of bees.  Not brave enough for that.

The Metzendorf for moved into the driveway and I've been cleaning it and stocking it for the summer.  So happy to see my old friend again.  Yesterday I just laid on the back bench for awhile with all of  the windows open. 

Last fall I threw out all of the old ugly curtains and took measurements to make new ones.  Wow, did these notes leaving me scratching me head when I got them out.  I just finished the curtains this morning.  It was very economical to use the biggest curtain panels I could find at Wal-Mart to make these; the pieces were cut to include as many already-hemmed edges as possible and the fabric is a really nice weight.  They're royal blue to match the awning. It's going to look really sharp.  Plus curtains will save other campers from having to look at a certain 3 year old jumping around the beds in his underwear.  :)  

What work looks like.   I took some great photos of the two little guys (not shown) working in the garden together.

I accidentally sprouted about 3 million heirloom tomato plants.  The garden is going to be tilled and planted Monday, weather permitting.  The oldest and I planted peanuts and have them under grow lights to give them a head start, it will be fun to see if we can grow peanut plants successfully, I remember my grandpa growing them when I was little but have no idea the variety he planted.

We've been enjoying the fresh asparagus and lettuces will be ready soon too.

This is a terrible photo but I finished filing in the gaps in the landscaping on the West side of the house with hostas.  

Front planters.


By the garage.

Thanks to last weeks coyote attack we've been taking some time to talk about predators and carnivores.  We haven't lost any more poultry and haven't seen the coyote since.  Thank goodness.

We've been using the local rails-to-trails path a lot.  It's a really nice perk to have in town.  Lots of plants and birds and lovely views of the river.

Quiet contemplation.  He loves that bench.

This is a shrub growing along the path.  It's beautiful. The flowers look like honeysuckle blossoms but it's a shrub.  I wish I knew what it was, it would be nice to have one by the house.

Bee has some sort of odd cough/sneeze thing going on but is in great spirits otherwise.  I remember last summer when she lost her "me-mow" voice  when the baby was born.  

Some adventure planned for this weekend,  hope the weather holds and it's not too hot.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day

A gift from my husband:

to go with a previous gift:

I'm a very lucky lady.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The new crew

I went to an Amish hardware store this morning and came home with these. 

We had a total chicken massacre yesterday. By a coyote.  In broad daylight. I lost 18 birds yesterday.

To be continued...

Friday, May 10, 2019

A garden for the birds and bees

A work in progress.

We have this unused area of space right outside the dining room windows.  When we moved here there was a massive, ancient rose bush planted there but it was killed by a hard winter.  So there's a patch of dirt there where we stuck a bird feeder which got filled occasionally.

This year is the first time that I've kept the feeders full all of the time.  And we've have so many birds come to it that we can't believe it.

Here are some google pictures of the birds that we as seeing every day now: gold finches, Baltimore orioles, rose breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings.  Lord knows I'm not feeding anything special, it's just the wild bird mix from TSC but we're getting so many birds.  I've never seen an indigo bunting up close like this before.  He's here every day and  spends most of his day parked on one of the feeders.  I've named him Bernie.

I got the idea to turn this patch of ground into a bird/pollinator garden with a bird bath and plants that would attract and feed the visitors. 

So here is the space we started with.  

That bright blue dot on the side of the right feeder is Bernie.

Here's a rough sketch of what I'm going for:

I dug a bunch of different daylillies from my parent's house along with a peony bush. For the bees and butterflies I'm planting yarrow, hyssop, cone flowers, bee balm and borage.  For caterpillars; milkweed (for monarchs) and parsley (Swallowtail butterflies).  Canna and salvia for the hummingbirds.   In the gaps between perennials I've put wildflower seeds and buckwheat.

The youngest supervises.

Here is some of it laid out.  The perennials are all planted, parsley is growing under lights.  We're still waiting on some seeds to come in the mail and I need to find some milkweed to transplant.

We're all very excited about it.

Any suggestions for plants that bees and butterflies love?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Stupid effin' raccoons

It's spring.  They're back. Stupid effin' raccoons.

The one night I was late closing coops, the ONE NIGHT, they made off with two chickens.  There was nothing but a pile of feathers outside the coop. 

 Now, this is what greeted me this morning:

Where they tried to bust through the coop window.

My hand for scale.  I'm actually surprised that it wasn't a bloodbath out there this morning.  After they got bored with the chicken wire they tried to dig UNDER the small coop.

So I went out there today with a roll of 1/4 inch hardware cloth and staple gun and covered both of the windows.  

I found these right above my head  while I was busy stapling and hammering:

So now there's that to deal with. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Welcome ducklings!

Well, this happened today.  I am so excited to have ducks here again.  This morning I asked my husband if he minded if we got a couple of ducklings.
He said, God bless him and I quote, "I don't care what you do."
He likes looking at them in the yard and really has no idea how many birds we have.

I practically skipped to Tractor Supply where all of the birds were on clearance.  Between the clearance price, my reward rebate and a coupon, I brought home 5 little ducklings for $2.97.


Look at those cute, fat little butts.  I mean, who could resist?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Blackberry vinegar shrub

A splash of shrub mixed with carbonated water.   The color is amazing.

Last month I got into the freezer and turned the remaining frozen berries into a vinegar shrub.  I used the same basic recipe from making the rhubarb shrub last spring.

1 lb fruit
1/2 c honey, 1/2 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar

For the fruit I had mostly blackberries, some currants and a few blueberries.

Here's the color in the bottle:

It absolutely tastes like fresh blackberries.  Unfortunately we don't have the sweetest blackberries here but I still like it a lot.  These vinegar shrubs are wonderful.  This one is almost gone but thankfully the rhubarb is really starting to come up so we can make another batch of that soon.