Rescue Chickens

21 Nov

The end of the summer was a tough one.  All my assorted hens were murdered in the night.  Usually what ever gets them will run off with one or two of the bodies, but this time there was just a mess of wasted chickens except for one old hen.  I didn’t realize how attached I was to them all until they were gone.  I loved the assortment of white, brown and black hens, along with their different coloured eggs.   At first I thought that we would wait a bit to get more but I didn’t hold out for long.  A week later I  purchased 11 month old hens from a farmer who was getting new hens commercially.  These hens had only known being in a cage.  I call them my rescue chickens!

They still do not seem to all get laying their eggs in the nesting box and usually lay them on the floor.  I even had to teach them how to roost at night- they had no idea.

I still have problems daily with skunks, racoons, mice and sometimes rats.  I have to make sure that I am home to lock them up at night to keep the critters out. As for what got them, I have no idea for sure.

rescue hens

rescue hens

When they first came home they looked a little beat up. Their combs were dry and faded. Feathers were broken or missing.

rescue hensNow they are happy and doing much better.  

The tricky part is keeping them safe.

Every night I yell at the skunks to get out of the coop and poke them with a stick… I am sure it is only a matter of time before I get sprayed!  

I hope all your pets are safe and healthy at your place. Any tips on how to keep those chickens safe? And how come my rescue chickens have never said Thank-you? GESH!

Fall on my Knee

19 Nov

I was just out in the yard playing around while sitting on a rock.  

Fall is happiness, especially when the weather is as nice as it has been so long right now.  And I just love these Oat grass seeds. 

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Oat grass seeds sitting on a yellow walnut leaf.

If you were to dissect fall down to an itty bitty seed or leaf, which would be your favourite thing?

Undoing 3 Years of Procrastination in 6 Days

14 Nov

Oh yeah! I am serious.  

Finally! Enough is enough.  

Enough of the weeds, the tall grass, the wood chip heaps, the dirt dug for trees and then tossed aside.  I GOT ON IT! But I am letting old man winter do the real tough work for me by breaking down the layers of soil, cardboard, compost and mulch that I laid down in this garden.  

I am talking about that horrible garden that I dubbed my Garden that came Undone back in 2012. Only thing is- If I am being real, it actually came undone in 2011. Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.33.29 PMI have really struggled with this overwhelming task. For a while I really liked the garden just the way it was before being destroyed.  Just like that mature trees died, shade became full sun and I was lost with what to do with it all.  Not to mention all those rocks I moved.Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.30.12 PM

This was the state of things in the middle of THIS summer.  Um, YIKES! Does this count as cottage garden style?

I still don’t know exactly how this is going to turn out, but next spring I can slowly start playing with it, adding in divisions of plants or moving full gardens to this area.  I plan on closing shop on two gardens next spring that can be incorporated into this one which is located in a place where I can enjoy looking at it and easily tend to it.

For more how to on what I did see this expert advice on how to let winter prep a garden for you here: Goodbye Grass Hello Garden.

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First cut all grasses and plants down with the lawnmower.  I pulled weeds by hand also, and rediscovered the pathway pavers I put in behind this garden to keep the raspberry brambles back and separate it from the wooded area.

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The idea is to put down a few inches of soil and then layer with cardboard (this took a TON of cardboard).

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 Top the cardboard with compost (I used everything I had) including fresh compost that hasn’t broken down yet from the kitchen, straw, chicken manure and leaves. Then top with several inches of mulch.  

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The garden hose spread on the ground shows how big I actually wanted to make this garden. I did come to my senses (for now).

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.25.09 PMA deep layer of soil, cardboard, and compost.

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All finished with mulch

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and ready to go come spring!  

Isn’t that exciting!!

Plus already it is a huge improvement to look at compared to what was there.  I am excited for transplanting in the spring!  I wish I had a picture of how big the wood chip pile was that its now reduced to rubble.  It was big enough that the kids tobogganed on it last winter! Oh Wait, Found it. 

Last years wood chip pile and this years wood chip pile.  Can you say too much wood chip!?? haha

 

6 days and one million wheelbarrow loads of soil, compost and mulch. Of course I still have to edge this sucker come the spring too. Joy!   

PS. The reason I used this method instead of  weed barrier is because I want this to be a perennial bed with spreading plants.  Weed barrier makes that difficult, not to mention that the soil will be richer this way.

Now who wants to design the rest of this for me?

 

 

 

The End of another Season

12 Nov

Fall is finishing up here.  I have taken the last of my veggies out of the garden. Celery, leek, beets, potatoes, carrots; all perfect for hearty healthy soups.  I mulched the garlic that is still attempting to grow- Talking to a local farmer, she had a really weird yield this year with very small bulbs… and here I thought that I did something wrong.  She mulches her fall crop heavily so that they can survive the winter. Not surprisingly my spring crop has joined forces to turn into a winter crop.

One of these days I shall post a photo of garlic on here!! (*waves fist in the air)

 

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I have no idea what to do with all those leeks!? Any ideas?

In Real Time

10 Nov

I have been blogging in my head. Have you gotten the messages? haha

Things are a mess around here to say the least, and they aren’t going all that fast at the moment either.  Here is the start of the work on the exterior.  At this point an imagination is needed.  I use mine everyday to imagine things done and cleaned up.  So many delays! Windows have been delayed more than 2 weeks and now it is starting to get quite cold.  When all is said and done delays are the norm and when we take our time the details can be worked out that much easier.  It is all a trade off (…pep talk to self).

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Welcome to that in-between ugly stage!

I don’t know what to make for supper. What are you having tonight?

 

Jane’s Sculptural Vegetable Garden Year 2

15 Oct Janes garden year 2

I loved my Aunt Janes front yard vegetable garden last year and she was back at it this year making it bigger and better than ever! Jane has kindly agreed to let me share these photos with you all again.  Her garden is so inspiring and creative.  It’s no surprise that she has cleaned up at the fair again this year.  I don’t think any of my veggies would be worthy of the fair– I feel that there are some secrets that need to be shared here  -  Is there a magic vegetable wax? Or a magical skunk deterrent? ha! Janes garden year 2 In Jane’s front yard: (Click on any photo to view as a slide show)

Jane planted 300 onion sets, garlic, yellow and green beans, snow peas, reg. peas, beets, carrots, kale, red cabbage, and 6 types of peppers and about 6 varieties of tomatoes.  Her plans for the future include trying a cold frame for winter gardening out of old windows.  Even with Jane being the pro that she is, is still experimenting.  Isn’t that great? In the Back Yard: Janes garden year 2Janes garden year 2 Janes garden year 2  This setting seems so pleasing and relaxing to me. Bye-bye stress.

First Prize Vegetables

The Result: 1st Place!  WOW! A job well done again Jane.

Let me know when you write the handbook on how to get first prize at the fair. I want to read it! Have you ever seen such shiny delicious vegetables?  I think I can see my own reflection in this photograph. What one looks the most beautiful? If you could be any vegetable what would you be? And wouldn’t you want to be cared for in Jane’s garden?  I would- she always took good care of me when I was a kid! Can’t wait to see what you do next year Jane and thanks for sharing your successes with us. Perhaps I will get a chance to come and see it in person next year. Happy Gardening! Diane Jane’s Garden Last Year

Rocking Hot Pink

24 Sep pink rocking chair

We all need a little colour in our lives! Am I right? The safest place to put it is outside where you don’t have to ask permission. If you want to paint something bright pink- you can. No rules!

This might be considered a family heirloom, I am not sure… Well I don’t want to to admit it if is.  hahah

photo

It was for a while in my living room, but I don’t find rocking chairs all that practical for the day to day.  But on the front porch… now that seems like a lovely place to put it, and for a while I did.  The finish began to wear and it wasn’t much to look at.  

But if you want to stand out, you should be rocking hot pink.  And that simply goes for anybody! :)

It took three cans of Krylon (paint + primer) Watermelon Pink spray paint to cover this rocking chair.

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And now it’s a luscious glossy pink show stopper!

Anything hanging around your place that could use a bright show stopping colour?

The Strange and Wonderful

19 Sep

I brought up the wild cucumber vine in a previous post and I thought that I would share some pictures on its strange and wonderful fruit.   Now that I see how many ‘blooms’ chock full of seeds that I have let go rampant in the front garden I now wonder if that was really such a brilliant idea? haha!

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 12.06.56 PMThe fruits on wild cucumber vines look like fat little cucumbers with harmless but prickly thorns. 

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There are just a few hundred pods of seeds waiting to fall! gasp! 

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The insides are soft and squishy, smelling just like a cucumber with seeds that resemble cucumber or mellon seeds. It is native to Ontario and to some it is a weed, to others a wild flower.  The pods are especially neat when they dry out- I think anyways!

Another strange and wonderful fruit around here are ground cherries. This is the first time I have grown them in the vegetable garden and they have such a neat flavour. They taste like a cherry one minute and the next a tomato. To me they are marvel.

ground cherries

ground cherry

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My first experience with a ground cherry was at a wedding this summer. It was a garnish on a creme brullee.  I was so proud of myself for even knowing what it was.  Surely they have been around for a long long time. 

Something else that is more on the STRANGE side is this cute raccoon (and I never think racoons are cute) who on a rainy saturday morning was laying on our front mat.  She wanted to come into the house and looked at us like ‘come on… What are you waiting for? Just open the door and let me in’.friendly raccoon

I have never seen such a presumptuous raccoon. 

Anything strange but wonderful in your neck of the woods?

Moving the Rose Garden-Redesign

15 Sep pink rose

The weather is cooling off here and it is just simply perfect! I have spent the last week moving the rose garden in front of the soon to be demolished addition out of the way- trying to save them before it’s too late.   I also didn’t want to waste any time giving myself a beautiful view from the new kitchen window this winter and next year.   I had quite a few roses in this area next to vegetable garden and they were spaced out too far and in between, and it definitely needed beefing up. The only thing that needs to happen now is for the rose bushes to live through the winter and for me to stay on top of the Japanese beetles next summer.  Sounds easy right? ha!

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This area in front of the kitchen is known to me as the rose garden- some years it looks better than others.

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The rose garden is always a thorny work in progress, but it is was worth trying to save these pretty things!

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The photo above shows an extension of the roses beside the vegetable garden that I am going to make better (and Bigger!) Currently it’s beyond pathetic.

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Marking out the area of sod to remove with a garden hose.

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I added many many wheelbarrow loads of top soil and then the plants, it’s a bit of a low spot and needed to be raised.  I divided a few clumps of lambs ears to make a nice edging.

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I pulled about 30 small strawberry plants from my existing mature plants to fill an area.  I will have to probably net these to get them before the birds next year. The only thing I bought was this globe cedar, Blue indigo and a tall grass with white plumes. I love looking at tall grasses in the winter!

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The last step was to add LOTS of wood chip (my favourite part).

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View toward the house.

I will have to wait until next year to see the tall grass and blue indigo.

rough sketch

My original quick sketch is nothing like what I actually planted.

Sometimes you just have to get the ideas out of your system and then deal with reality. :)

rose garden sketchWhat was planted where.

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And that’s the beginning of a great new garden view from this direction! (fingers crossed!)

 What is your favourite all season plant, tree or shrub to view from inside?

Haphazard and Fun- Container Planting

3 Sep

Good morning!  A few colourful photos today showing the less fussy containers around the yard.  I just had fun with these and used what ever annuals were left over, threw in some nasturtium seeds that just kind of took over. I hope we have a late frost this year… I hate to be thinking about that already!

Purple Aztec Verbena is planted on the ground in front of Silver Falls Dichondra, double wave Pink Petunia and of course some Nasturtium. 

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.57.56 PMI always have lots of Impatiens on the front porch.

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The copper icebox planter was quickly planted with some mothers day flowers this year (a variety of coleus and Impatiens) to add colour.

What’s the most haphazard and fun thing you’ve planted this summer… or done? Cliff diving anyone? :)

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