Saturday, June 25, 2011

Around the Homestead

I'm a couple of days late with my "Around the Homestead" post.  But, I figure, better late than never!

I suppose I'll start out with the greenhouses....

The onions, beets and broccoli are doing great!

And so are the cucumbers and radishes.  Soon I hope to get pole beans planted between the cukes.

Eggplants are flowering!?!

The cantaloups are rockin'.  I love their heart-shaped leaves.

The watermelons are also growing strong.
I can't believe we might actually get melons!
An impossibility here without the help of a greenhouse... and a dream come true for the kids!

Hello!  Our tomatoes and basil are out of control!  Italian, anyone?

Our early tomato varieties are already producing lots of fruit.

Carrots are up.

I sowed these dry shelling beans the other day.  They are from seed we saved a couple years ago.

I've been harvesting lots of basil everyday.

This is that area I mentioned a few posts back that we chose to sheet mulch just outside the greenhouses.  Doug, the owner, covered the whole area in thick road-bed cloth and then put about 4 inches of his soil mix on top.  Since that's not the greatest growing environment and Doug is very attached to keeping the cloth down, Steve and I opted to sheet mulch on top and work to build more soil.  We pulled and cut back all the weeds that were growing in the space and left them in place, threw down a thin dusting of blood meal (very high in nitrogen) to burn the weeds and stimulate decomposition,  then a layer of newspaper, then a 2 inch layer of aged cow manure, and then about a 3-4 inch layer of straw on top of that.  On top of the straw, we built big squash mounds using soil amended with minerals.  This will soon be our pumpkin and winter squash patch!  We had hoped to companion corn and beans to create a three sisters garden, but this area gets pretty hammered with wind and, the soil being so thin here, we are worried the corn will blow over.  We might try it anyway!  I'm also thinking about tossing down some cover crop seed in the straw.... gotta clear it with Doug first though!
Now, onto things around the homestead....

The calendula is huge!  Up to my waist and loaded with flowers.  It looks so beautiful with the foxglove growing up through it and a backdrop of peas in bloom.

I love the inside of foxglove!

Chamomile is looking great.  I love growing our own medicinal herbs.

This sunflower blossom is starting to form.

The raspberry thicket is loaded with soon-to-be-ripe berries!  And loaded with bees, too!

Peas are on... finally!
I look forward to the poppy blooms every year.  Currently we have all stages of the flower on our gigantic bushes.  Here's my ode to the amazing poppy in all its forms....

Aren't they incredible?

Blueberries are fully on.  Now they just need to ripen so we can gobble them up!

Lillies popping up among the spinach

The fig is finally leafing out.

Our potato boxes are beyond ready for a few more layers of cedar planks and some straw!

The apples are full of tiny fruit.  I really need to get in there and thin them.

Green strawberries.... Come on sun!!!
It's been a long, cold spring.
We are usually harvesting strawberries by now.
But, these guys are not even showing signs of blushing yet.

The little chickens love to cuddle in the garden cart!

And, last but not least....
The old man who watches carefully over it all!
Happy summer everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011


I'll try to sum up the last ten days in photos and a few words.  It's been a crazy ten days.... animals, plants, family and trips around the sun.
warm horse breath in the early morning


and snuggles

greenhouses are getting more and more planted by the day

tomatoes are flowering

melons are growing
I wish I had more greenhouse photos to share, but when I'm there (which is a LOT), I am so incredibly busy, I forget to take pictures.  The above only hint at a fraction of what is actually going on in there.  Can't wait to share more!

milking mama goats

look at all that milk!
and that's even with the kids still nursing at will

We like to cuddle with little Bandit

and little Ginseng, too!
I got to go back and visit the alpaca ranch where I assisted during shearing.  Not running between animals, skirting tables and scales, I was able to get some photos of the silly girls and boys.

This cria (baby alpaca) was born the day before the shearing.
Her mama likes to keep her close and was none-too-pleased at being separated from her babe to be shorn.
As you can see, they are happily inseparable now.

This mama was pregnant during the shearing.

Not anymore!
This is what we were given in trade for our help at the shearing!
Seven bags of gorgeous alpaca fiber!

So soft...
 The big news that I eluded to in my last post is.... I bought a spinning wheel!  I am so so excited.  At the moment, it is still in pieces on my living room floor.  I got about half-way through oiling the wood and have yet to get back to it due to the greenhouses popping up in my life and demanding all of what used to be spare moments in my day (and then some).  I can't wait to put it together and start spinning.  That alpaca fiber is going to be delicious!

Partly sunny skies mean a whole different thing when you live in the rainforest of western Washington....
look for it....

wait for it....

Oh!  There we go!  I just have to wait for the sun to drop below the clouds shortly before sun set!
Hmm... partly sunny... really? 
Good thing we got to scuttle off to sunny California for a couple of days for an all-too-quick visit with family!  I'm glad summer is happening somewhere!  My brother and sister-in-law live in the heart of the Russian River valley in Sonoma County.  Wine country, redwoods, the river, sunshine, family, good food, dear friends... heaven.  This is the view from their back yard.

And last, but not least.... My sweet boy turned 11!  I can't believe it!  He got to have a very special Cali birthday with his favorite aunt and uncle and some of his East Coast grandparents.  His big day involved going out to breakfast, getting to build a skate board for the first time, practicing skate board tricks for hours, ice cream cake, swimming in the river, pineapple and jalapeno pizza, and lots and lots of lovin.

Richard and Sequoia help Cedar put together his skate board
Needless to say, life has been very, very full.  In all the best ways.  It's not always easy and I am as tired as a dog, but I am so very full indeed.