Seed starts & fly control

Seed starts & fly control

I’ve given up on winter. No snow, 40 degrees in January, raining at 28, I’m over it. So, in honor of moving on, we planted seeds. Yes, it’s a bit early, but the thing I learned last year is that we need a natural pest control system. With the location of our little mini farm, we have flies. Gross I know. As a kid my step mom had 20-25 horses on 10 acres, we had flies, but this is worse. I grew up in dry land wheat and cattle ranch country. Now I’m in the land of irrigated corn and feed lots. We don’t live so close that we smell the feed lots, but there are at least 3 within 10 minutes of our home. And we have an irrigated cornfield on each side of our property.

Back to the seed starting.

There are a few herbs that work as natural fly repellants: basil, lavender, mint, rosemary, and bay.

We plan to have a handful of plants in the house, then several planters full on the patio around the back doors and probably one out front, hence, starting early.

Here are a few tips for starting seeds:

  1. Hedge your bets: choose plants that are easy to start. Basil is a good one, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes are also easy-ish.
  2. Timing is everything: you can find planting guides for all regions. The back of seed packets will list how deep to plant, germination rates (how long to sprout), and a general guide on how long till maturity.
  3. Have a drain tray. You can use nursery flats or punch holes in the bottom of a container that is about 2-3 inches deep, and set it on a tray or plate. By having the holes in the bottom you don’t have to worry too much about over watering, and that’s my style.
  4. If you’re just starting out, buy seed starter mix. Yes you can make your own, but I’d wait till you’ve been starting your own for at  least a season, that way you won’t be adding more unknowns to the learning process.
  5. Mini-greenhouse: cover your seed starts with plastic wrap, glass, or a tray cover and keep them around 70 degrees. Keep the soil moist.
  6. At the 1st sign of sprouts, move to the sun.
  7. Once they have germinated they don’t need to stay as warm. About 1 week before replanting outside, start to acclimate the starts to cooler temperatures. Set them outside for a little, do so more and more each day.

For us, one of the big parts of living in the country is the ability to raise our son in a way that he is able to learn lessons that have been passed down through family generations. I want him to know and understand the strength of his heritage.  He comes from a family of farmers, ranchers, and service men and women.  Above all he comes from hardworking people that take care of their own and step up to help others.

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A God Refill – My Testimony

 

 

 

 

 

This past week has been a struggle. I’ve been stressed and tense with work and, well, really not a happy person in general. I read a quote that basically said that the mom sets the attitude of the home. This coincides with my husband’s smart-aleck “momma aint happy aint nobody happy”.  This really just made me feel worse honestly. So now I’m feeling guilty because I don’t want to play with my son and get easily frustrated with normal 5 year old behavior. Don’t get me started on trying to teach him to read, like this will stop him from going to college if he doesn’t figure it out this week. I feel guilty about getting upset with hubby for leaving salsa in a dish on the counter, not to mention that he didn’t take it upon himself to clean up the kitchen after I neglected to even partly clean it up the night before. Oh did I mention he was busy changing the oil in 2 vehicles in the dark? Obviously I’m being awful, and yet, still mad!

 

So today I decided I needed a God refill. After leaving work I cranked up my KLOVE station (Christian radio), and blared it all the way to daycare to get my son. Got home, same drill. While making dinner I made a conscious effort to list to myself my reasons why my life is great, and the gifts I’ve been given. I’m writing this now partly because I feel like I’ve been ignoring God for a while. I feel like I’ve been instructed to give my testimony, but I’ve been saying to myself “to who”? Well, I guess this will go out to whoever and the few followers I have on this blog.

For a long time I thought my dad was this “special project” of God’s.  I’ve never known someone so blessed, yet so “un-churchy”. Not a word, I know, but here are some stories I grew up with:

 

  1. My grandparents were living in South Dakota and the “work dried up”. So they requested newspapers from all across the country (I’m not sure how they did this in the late 60s, not sure it matters). Anyway, they see an ad for a farm hand job in the small town of Ephrata, WA. Grandpa got the job, so the family packed up everything they could fit in the station wagon and made the move. They were poor, like dirt poor. My dad was born with asthma, it’s very common in our family, those who have it, have it bad for life. There is medically no cure, and asthma leaves internal damage in the way you can see scar tissue in the lungs in xrays. So, Dad ends up having an asthma attack and they are clear out of town on this farm (20 minutes from town), no one around, they couldn’t afford his medicine so he ran out. They can’t afford doctor bills, and were afraid to move him anyway. Grandma and Grandpa laid their hands on him and prayed. They prayed and prayed and prayed. Suddenly his breathing calmed and soon he was fine. After that day he never had another asthma attack (he was around 14). At 21 he joined the Army, asthma is a disqualifier. He tells them, well I had it as a kid but really don’t anymore. They humor him and take xrays and several other tests (it was the 80s – less strict I guess). No scar tissue, they can’t trigger it with gas drills, or anything else.  To this day he still has not had a problem, even considering he has smoked basically since 18.              
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    This my Dad (in the middle, with his brother and Dad)
  2. As a solider dad and his men are out on a drill. Something goes wrong and they roll a truck with a bunch of guys in the back. People go flying everywhere. What few were uninjured rush to help. Very few 1st aid supplies and they dumped the ice a few miles back. Dad is helping a “young kid” and yells for ice. Voices yell back, it’s gone! In a bit of stress and panic he yells but I need ice! A hand taps his shoulder; he reaches back and accepts the ice. Never looks to see who it was that helped out. Later, talking to his guys he tries to thank whoever for the ice. They all say, “wasn’t me”. One guy that had been sitting there when the ice arrived said he didn’t recognize the soldier, and really didn’t see a face.  Bum bum bum….
  3. Now to current day-ish. The summer after I graduated high school I get word that my dad has cancer. Fast moving, a malignant tumor in his jaw. Between finding it, a follow up and surgery, just a little over 2 weeks had passed and they scheduled chemo for “right away”.  He went in for his follow-up to start the chemo process and was told they were doing more tests. We want to wait. Hugh? So he gets a call a couple days later with news. The tumor is benign and they can’t explain what happened. They sliced and diced and it was sent off to multiple labs, yet they don’t have an explanation. Something about being featured in an article.

 

At this point, I’m in awe. I mean, how many miracles does one man get? Then I think, its Grandma, she has a direct line to God.

Now on to me: Down the road Hubby and I have our struggles. I even left. Took my baby and moved to the other side of the state. He follows and stays with a friend, which really annoyed me more. I mean really “my fiend not yours” ha-ha. She was a good friend, doing God’s work I guess, because one day hubby stops by for a kid exchange. I have my speech ready. We’re over, this won’t work, blah blah blah. So I go to tell him, and here I am speaking words that I had no intention of telling him. Really not even worded in a way I would have spoken. Basically I tell him we’ll work it out. I think on it and tack on – but we’re going to church. He tells me I had a shocked look on my face the whole time, like I couldn’t believe what I was saying.  We’ve been back together for going on 4 years now, and though we have our moments, it’s the most functional our relationship has ever been. I can only say its having God in my life.

 

This also got me thinking about these miracles of my family and I realized that I was given these miracles. I was blessed with amazing grandparents who stepped up and helped raise me when I had no one else. They took in my sister and she wasn’t technically their blood. I had aunts and uncles and another set of grandparents that took me in and gave my sister and me a home more than once. They taught us love, respect, manners, pride, and trust. God healed my father at a time when I had already lost so much and didn’t know if I could take anymore. I can go on, but this has been wordy enough.

 

I’m blessed and I see his light daily.

 

So, God refill – Check! Sometimes I just need a splash of reality. 

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This is my sister & me. As kids we were always told we were all each would ever have. Sad, but sometimes true. 

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Me and Grandma!

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The 2 men in my life: Hubby and our son. 

I am blessed, i just need a reminder sometimes. I don’t think i’m the only one. What do you do to get back on track?

 

Expanding the flock, & a story of Zombie Chicken

Expanding the flock, & a story of Zombie Chicken

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“On the 9th day God looked down and said, this farmer may create a mess, so God made a farmer’s wife.”

 

One of our latest family discussions has been based on expanding our chicken flock. Hubby has left it up to me for the most part. If I decide I’m up for getting chicks this year, it will basically be up to me to take care of them as he will be working out of town and likely home only on weekends for a bit. The other part of the flock expansion is the possibility of adding butcher chickens (I believe he plans to go with Cornish cross, but it’s not important).

Now my hesitation doesn’t come from the idea of added work, it really won’t be that much. But here’s my not so secret secret: chickens kind of creep me out. Dumb right? But anyone who ever messed with a goose as a kid probably has their heart rate increase a bit when a group of bids swarm you to see if you have snacks. Pigs really really freak me out, but that story is for another time.

Basically my biggest hang up is past experience, so let me tell you the story of the Zombie Chicken. Several years back we tried the butcher chicken idea. At that time I had a strict out of sight out of mind policy for the chickens. At first I had agreed to get a few chickens. Hubby had made a great point about it being fun for our son and would be nice to have farm fresh eggs. So one day I look in on the chicks and there’s a handful running around being cute. A couple days later I look in and I ask, if we got more, seemed like there was more than before. Hubby says no no they just got bigger and take up more space. I look in a few days later and now I see more. Definitely more because now they are different size and color! We went from 5ish to 15ish. Now I don’t remember if I objected to butcher chickens, but they came too.

Well at this point in our lives I was working as a 911 dispatcher doing shift work and had a baby to care for. Hubby was working construction as you may guess about the time the chickens started to get out of the cute chick phase, construction season ramped up and hubby was gone before light to around dark, working 14+ hour shifts.

So one day I go to the mail and Ooooh! My new IPhone! Now this was when the iPhone had just come out, and I had no concept of what iTunes was or that I had to have it on my phone to make it work. So one phone is shut down because I had my new iPhone activated, and I have no house phone. I can’t figure out why I have a picture of the earth and no working phone. I go out to take it to the AT&T store, and what do I find….. Nasty horrid rotting dead chicken under the front of my SUV.

Totally grossed out I go to grab a shovel and get it buried somewhere. CHICKEN GOT UP AND RAN FROM ME!!!! I had really thought this thing was dead. I mean, it was rotting! It had a big chunk of blacked flesh and exposed bone. It had a few spots like this. No way was this alive! It was. So now I’m going, well I have to kill it, that’s horrible. I can’t even call anyone to help me or take care of it for me.  And I was not about to touch it, so that left me with shooting it. I go in and get a shotgun, good reach, great bird hunting gun, should work right? Dumb chicken ran under the new riding lawn mower! So I’m looking like a crazed woman chasing a damn chicken with rotting legs around a riding lawn mower and my SUV. So I give up and go in and get my pistol, I have what I call snake rounds for it; they are basically small shotgun shells for a hand gun. So I go back out, get it far enough away from stuff I can shoot it, and take my shot. Bird screams & starts flapping around; I scream and jump around squealing at how disgusting this whole mess is. What do I hear on the breeze? Turns out my neighbor (150yrds down the road) has been watching and is now laughing his butt off at my antics. Can this day get much worse? I yell “ya could have come to my rescue!” he yells “No this is great!”

Yeah, great, for him. Turns out Zombie Chicken was not the only chicken out. Turns out chickens are a bit cannibalistic and the others rushed out and started pecking the now dead zombie! GROSS! I guess my day could get worse. So I chase off other chickens, lock them up, and check the other butcher chickens. They were rough looking, but holding their own. Hubby got an ear full when he got home, and the rest of the butcher chickens were taken care of immediately.

So now, when I hear Hubby say, “I think we should get some butcher chickens”, my heart starts to pick up speed, and my skin crawls a bit. I know he has definitely changed over the years and our current farm has shown that he would be fine with the extra responsibility, but I still worry about the time. His work will be doing a big fish study this year, and as a result he will be pulling long hours and possibly working 7 days a week for a couple prime months of summer. Will he have time? Am I up to the task if he doesn’t?

Now that I’ve told my story again, I’m going with no butcher chickens, but I’m okay with expanding the egg layers.

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Super Mom!

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Ever have one of those days where you’re going “I’m awesome!” That’s been me today, conceited? Maybe, but still I couldn’t help but think: “Man I’m on my game today. Watch out I’m super Mom!”

Let me explain.

This past weekend our family gathered to butcher pigs. It’s a once a year family event on my in-laws side. The catch is I’m talking about a group of people that start work at O-dark 30. Hence, 6:15 and we were late. Now I’d love to be that person posting pictures of us all or at least me, looking like a rock star at that awful hour on a Saturday, but let’s face it, I had to leave my house with a 5 year old by 5:20 in order to be late. I wasn’t looking like the magazine mom I pretend I look like. I’m not even sure I managed to put on make-up. I know it didn’t look like it when I got home. But hey, my sister in-law was still in pajamas. She looked comfier then me, but neither of us was going to win a modeling contract. I did feel better though when my brother in-law showed up later than us and he looked like he just chased down the abominable snow man. My inappropriate judgy inner voice said “ha! I’m not the goofiest looking in the group this winter. Its 40! I managed to leave the winter gear home!”

Anyway I digress; both Saturday and Sunday were like this for me and my family. By Sunday night I had the kid that made ME want a time out. I was over it. After putting my son to bed I was exhausted, yet not ready to sleep, so I ended up staying up just as late as normal. This morning I woke up and felt great (that wore off around 1 when I was trying to stay awake during lean management training). I managed to get the kid going and ready to go, made blueberry muffins for breakfast, started a load of bedding in the wash, and managed to get a roast started in the crock pot all in time to leave for work at 7:30. Even made it out of the house in time to be social at daycare for a minute before rushing out to work. Toward the end of the day I remembered to ask my husband to put the bedding in the dryer since he would get home before me. I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Then it occurred to me. This day had been way too easy. Great morning, no problems at work, awesome husband helping with laundry…… Something’s gonna give, a ball will drop, shoe will fall, whatever. I actually set an alarm to make sure I didn’t forget to pick my son up from daycare.  But everything has turned out perfect. Well, as far as I know.

So at this point, I’m Super Mom! I made it all day and even got a chance to write this ridiculously long “check me out” blog post.  Eh, I say we all get to brag once in a while. Today is that day for me.

 

 

A Family Hunt

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Yesterday was our first family hunt of the year! Okay in honesty, it was the first in almost 5, and I’m not sure the one other time counts considering I just rode in the truck with the new baby. As we piled out of the truck at our hunt destination and our son started telling me stories and asking questions, I couldn’t help but reflect on my dad taking me hunting as a kid.

Looking back I remember questioning my father’s hunting ability given we never once got anything when he took me out. Watching my own child I realize it was because EVERYTHING, and I do mean everything, knew we were coming long before we got there. There was no “sneaking”, no “surprising” your prey. No, they knew you were there, just like our parents and grandparents knew when we were “sneaking around” and getting into areas we were not allowed to play.  You sound like a parade traipsing through the brush. My son literally started singing and jumping at one point and tried to yell to see if dad liked his song. Ummm… yes, I’m sure all the birds did too.

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As a mom though, this was great! I was able to get some great pictures that I believe we will cherish for years to come. We made perfect memories, and not to be sappy, but when I pictured myself as a parent this is a variation of what I hoped for.

*All gun safety procedures were followed, no worries!

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My Latest Cold Weather Task

Step 2 for organization:

My next step of organization for the year is to take on the family budget. I know we do okay, our income covers our spending, but we don’t always save as much at the end of the month as we could. In the past we did the “Envelope” method for budgeting.  This worked okay when we lived in a town with multiple stores. But now we run into a few problems with it.

The envelopes don’t work so great when the closest grocery store (5 miles away) is a mom and pop shop, that you really should check the expiration dates before purchasing. When we go to the store on a quick trip it’s 16 to 20 miles away, you really don’t want to turn around for cash.

It’s a bit of a pain to go to the bank whether it’s once a month or each pay period. Nobody likes the person that takes 10 minutes in the drive thru, so you really need to go in. Now I’ll admit I find it entertaining when the gal at the bank looks at you like you’re going to have the biggest yard sale ever.

It’s also not the safest way to go. You end up either walking around with a larger than normal sum of cash, or leaving that cash in your car.

And don’t get me started on shopping somewhere like target or Walmart. You end up spending a half hour afterward trying to balance back out the cash in your envelopes because you didn’t want to look like the stripper pulling out a bunch of ones and fives from each envelope, since items fell into multiple categories.

The point is I’m trying a new plan. I’m keeping a tally sheet to help stay on track, and I’m hoping that the visual of writing down the spending will make me more conscious of our spending.

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If you’re interested, you can get a copy here: expence tracking