Underhill went off to her new home this morning. I weighed her this morning at 5.5 pounds. That's smaller than I anticipated her to be at six months old, but it's been a harsh winter, and growth is never what it should be for the fall grow outs. Anyway, I hope she proves to be a fantastic breeder for her new family. They were really nice.
Little Sage is 15 days old today. Her ears are open and she can hear. She perks up when she hears us talking near her, and actively crawls toward me when I call to her.
It looks like Underhill (the last doe rabbit for sale) will be heading to her new home tomorrow morning. She will be a breeder for an other homestead. That will just leave Ulric and Fella still looking for homes (both bucks).
Today while picking up a snow-blower (yes, I gave in - we now own a snow blower), the gal at the home improvement store said the potatoes and asparagus tubers would be in stock in two more weeks! Yay! Tony is already planning to build me more potato towers, since they out-produced the tire tower and the grow bag the year we tested them all. This year I wanted to try two or three different varieties, but found out that the All Blue potatoes we grew last time are no longer available. They replaced them with "Magic Molly" instead. I will probably end up picking them up to try just because they're available locally without postage fees. I have also found two varieties in seed catalogs that I want to try. Purple Viking is a potato with purple skin with pink splotches, but white flesh inside. Pinto Gold has a pink skin with yellow splashes. The flavor is said to be "buttery" which would be great for someone like me who desperately misses putting butter, cheese, and sour cream on her baked potatoes (lactose intolerance is no fun). I'm a little taken aback by the cost on them online though. I may skip the Pinto Gold and just go with the Purple Viking and Magic Molly this year. I should (hopefully) get enough to save some back for seed next year.
I spoke to my trusted adviser, whom I frequently bounce ideas around with (she gives the best advice), and she suggested trying to cut sugar out of my diet as well. Sugar can be replaced in recipes by honey, maple syrup (the real stuff, not the high fructose corn syrup crap), or stevia. As it turns out, I happen to have a few stevia seeds. Perhaps I will have to attempt to grow them out. She said you can just dry the leaves out and then grind them up like I do with some of my other herbs, then use it as sugar substitute. For now I will be trying to cut back, but not entirely eliminating sweets. I already try to eat healthy, but I put sugar in my coffee and yes, I make Kool Aid on a daily basis. Seriously, I have five kids and without it they suck through a gallon of apple juice every day - check the price difference between two cups of sugar and two Kool Aid packets versus a gallon of apple juice. Yes, water is healthier, but flavors make it so much easier to drink.
Today the mail brought some concord grape seeds. From what I've read online they have dismal germination rates that can take months, and it can be three or more years before you actually get a harvest - which may not even be a good product because you're dealing with seed-grown versus cutting or grafting. But hey, let's give it a try anyway!
I have 23 containers drying in the bathtub now. I sanitized them yesterday and will drill drainage holes tomorrow. I have so many more seeds I want to get into containers. I always feel like I'm running out of time, but really, as long as the ones that need stratification (cold time) are planted out early, the sensitive plants can wait until April. Still, I'd like to get some more jugs out soon. If nothing else, it clears up the space they're taking up in the kitchen.
I finished the purse for #1 today, and started a purse for #3. Hers will be blue, small, with a flap top with no closure, and a cross-body strap. Simple, but able to hold her phone.
Today we also looked at fencing. I'm going to need a way to keep Josh (the goose) out of the garden. Last fall he chewed off pretty much all of my okra and pepper plants about 2-4 inches up the stem, for no apparent reason. He didn't eat them, just chewed on them until they broke, then, like a lumberjack, just moved on to the next. The problem is that a fence will keep Josh out, but it won't deter Phil, Henrietta, or Big Red (the chickens). So do I get rid of the chickens? Give up on gardening? I don't know. I'm really hoping the chickens will leave the garden alone. Perhaps they will prefer treats from the compost heap when it's warm enough for them to be wandering the yard again. Anyway, fence panels run $15-$30 each, plus the posts and hardware to connect them all. A roll of fencing is $30 for 50 feet, again, plus the cost of posts and such. Tony seems to think it's going to be easier to get the roll and some cheaper posts and then we can move it or add to it as the garden grows over the years.
Oh garden thoughts... My happy place. I'm looking forward to barefoot weather.
Sage is two weeks old today. She is playing, but still tips over frequently. She's strong and curious. She's adorable. Floki is taking good care of her so far. We have had a couple incidents where we've caught one of the other cats either trying to steal her from her mom, or playing more like a cat would play with a mouse. As she gets bigger and stronger, I think she will be fine. For right now she tends to stay at the carpeted bottom of the cat tree. It's near the heat vent, and probably keeps her feet a fair bit warmer than the linoleum flooring.
Here's the video I took today. My apologies for #5 in the background. I try to do my videos in the morning or late evening when he's asleep, but today Sage was playing and I wanted to get a video...
After Monday's snow storm, we still hadn't been able to dig out. I've been under the weather for several days and Tony ended up catching a ride to Brainerd with my mom on Tuesday and then spending the night there to get to work today. The vehicle remained snowed in here. The kids had to trudge through deep snow down the long driveway to get to the bus again this morning.
I finally gave up and emailed the people we bought the house from to ask who had been plowing. They sent a husband over today to plow us out. I am incredibly grateful for this kindness. Tony got a ride home after work and happened to get home as this guy was finishing plowing. He refused any payment. So thank you Derek, for clearing the driveway, and making a couple big snow hills. The kids are excited at the prospect of playing on those in the coming days! I am happy to have my husband home again, now that he can get the car out of the driveway to get to work!
It's been snowing all day, with high winds. Several times the snow was going past the window completely horizontally. There are drifts up to three feet deep, though we probably only got 8-10 inches total. You can no longer see the 5-gallon buckets that are beside the garage. Several of our windows are now caked in snow due to the winds pressing snow into the screens. We made no effort to shovel the driveway today due to the winds. School was called off this morning, and by this evening they'd already announced a two hour delay for tomorrow as well.
This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the worst winter weather I've seen here in Minnesota. Not by a long shot. We can still open our doors, the electricity is still on, and we have heat. It is the worst we've gotten so far in the new house, but it's all good. That two hour delay tomorrow means kids can bundle up and help shovel the driveway. Tony is supposed to go back to work tomorrow, but I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work. We have a long driveway, and just snow shovels and man-power (or woman and child power on days Tony works). Anyone have a snowblower they'd be willing to sell for cheap in the Brainerd/Staples area? I just can't afford the $500 they go for new, and we did not budget in hiring someone to come plow (we can save money and shovel it ourselves - right?).
Using Google maps and the scale for distance, it looks like the driveway is roughly 850 feet long (.16 mile)
I've been hitting the penny auctions on eBay. My weird way of coping with stress. Today I won some blue seed beads, some unicorn charms, more moss rose seeds, a necklace (for #1), a bracelet (for #1), and a pair of earrings (future bribe for chores when I need a little extra help around the house).
I am still working on researching tomato and pepper varieties. I don't think I'm going to be able to get through them all before it's too late to start seeds, so I'm going to end up winging it... There are a few varieties I definitely want to plant though. Cow's Tit and Dino Eggs tomatoes, and Albanian Red Hot, Bell of Lebanon, and Black Pearl peppers to name a few. Some of these I have very limited seed (think 5 or fewer seeds in the collection), so it's of utmost importance that I grow them out.
Sage seems to be doing well today. Her eyes are open, she's been chewing on her feet (playing?) and Floki has resumed nursing as I have found her in the box with the kitten a couple of times, without me having to place her in the box.
Here's a quick video I recorded this morning.
I'm continuing to work on #1's purse. I didn't snap a photo of it today, but I got the bag portion done and I'm working on the flap now. Then it'll just be a matter of adding the loop and button closure and the cross body strap. It's looking pretty good. She chose the same variegated yarn I used for my prototype coaster (which I still love and used every day). I will try to get an updated photo tomorrow of my progress (or maybe even a finished product).
I made banana bread in the bread machine last night. This morning I took it out, sliced some of it up, packaged a couple slices for some of #1's friends (she wanted to take some to school to share) and asked the other kids if they wanted any. Only one kid got to taste it before our *very* naughty dog jumped up and stole the entire loaf right off the stove top! Lesson learned! Next time, it needs to be pushed all the way back, or put away as soon as it's sliced! Too bad I used the last of the bananas, and we're snowed in now. I guess maybe tomorrow I will make another loaf. Perhaps with peanut butter or something else I can find around the house.
We are expecting more snow tomorrow. The weather forecast says that we should anticipate 4-7 inches (with localized totals up to 11 inches), with the possibility of ice between 6am Monday and 6am Tuesday. Well that should be fun! The kids' schools have already called to announce a 2-hour late start, but all the schools around us are already closing ahead of the storm. I wonder if we will get another call in the morning calling school off completely.
The three bottles I put in the kitchen window nearly a month ago (with herb seeds) never came up. The window side of each is growing green inside, but no herbs came up. I'm disappointed, but not altogether surprised.
Tony has challenged me to a Rosemary contest. This will be year five of me trying to grow it from seed, failing, buying it from the nursery, limping it through the summer, and never getting a harvest. He thinks he can do better. So I welcomed him to it. If I win, we're still in the same position. If he wins, we get fresh Rosemary. Not a bad deal either way.
I did get the last of the winter sown containers moved. The last batch I had set outside the side door, and then we had a good thaw so they were sitting in water, then a freeze, so they were pretty much glued to the ground. I was able to chisel them up and move them to the South side of the house with the other containers. I figure it's a better location and offers more sunlight.
When I woke up this morning, I found little Rosemary, huddled up, all alone under the kitty tree. Floki had moved Sage and was nursing her somewhere else. Rosemary was already cold, which is pretty much a given that death isn't far behind. With the help of #3, we got Rosemary warmed back up, but it was clear that wasn't enough. We got her to nurse twice, but she was weak and her nursing sessions were only a few minutes long. This afternoon when it became apparent that Rosemary was failing and didn't have much longer, we decided to let her be with Floki and Sage (and Mabel) in the end. When we came back to check on her, she had passed away, tucked in with her family. Our hearts are broken. Rosemary will be buried with Basil in the spring. We're not sure where, but I'm sure #3 will come up with some gorgeous flowers or something perennial to plant over them so we can always remember them.
I know I've got a pink blueberry bush and a white blackberry plant that will be coming in April or May. Perhaps one of those would be a good option as a memorial plant. Otherwise, we're planning to get some apple trees too. That would be a lovely way to memorialize them in a way that isn't likely to be disturbed. Otherwise, flowers could work too. Something perennial. Maybe some daylilies or irises.
Since Rosemary's passing, Floki seems to have largely abandoned Sage now. I keep finding Floki curled up with the other adult cats, with Sage all alone on the floor. If this behavior continues, and we have to pin her down to get her to feed Sage, then Tuesday I will have Tony pick up supplies while he's in town and I will just have to commit to raising Sage by hand. I hope she can hold out that long.
This evening I started my next purse project. This one for #1. She wants a purse in the blue/grey variegated yarn that is a little wider and deeper than my own purse, with a cross body strap anchored all the way down the sides to the bottom for full support, and a flap with button and loop closure like #4's that I finished yesterday. As I'm started to crochet it up, the design it's making is actually quite pretty. I am looking forward to seeing how this one turns out!
I finished #4's purse this afternoon! It's pink, purple, and blue variegated with a cross-body strap and a button and loop closure. She's excited to start using it right away!
I've noticed lately a large growth deficit between the remaining kittens. Rosemary is starting to fail while Sage remains robust. I'm not sure what the problem is, but even Floki seems to notice and several times has pushed Rosemary away, or had taken Sage to another spot and laid down to nurse her without Rosemary. We continue to try to make sure that Rosemary gets nursing time, and Floki does allow her to nurse. Rosemary still actively seeks out a teat and seems to nurse well. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I can only assume Floki has a better idea that something is severely wrong that we can't understand.
Welcome to March! If you're up here in USDA Zone 4 it's time to start your indoor tomato and pepper seeds. I'm still not entirely sure if I'm going to do this for 2018 or not (guess I'm out of time to contemplate it). I have one little started tray I could use, and I was thinking about using it for some of my rarer seeds. Do I really want the hassle of a grow light and a shelf in the house though? Isn't winter sowing just that much easier?
The kittens are doing well. Floki moves them frequently. This morning she had them at the base of the kitty tree, then she moved them to a box, then back to the kitty tree, and now into another box. I think she's getting tired of Mabel trying to steal them.
I got a new photo of Wisp today. My goodness she is gorgeous! Look at all that fur! She's getting pretty big too. I suspect that is largely due to her being indoors though. All of her calories are going toward growth instead of keeping warm outside over winter. That said, as of Saturday she is going back outside. We're supposed to have two days that reach 40 (Saturday and Sunday) with the night just dipping below freezing, followed by one cold night and then the rest of the forecast shows above freezing for the high temperatures every day. Spring is coming! Wisp is fantastic, but I don't care for indoor rabbits. They're stinky, and honestly, I'm getting tired of cleaning her cage every day to keep the smell at bay. Her fur tufts around the backs of her legs are starting to look a little snarled. She's going to be a high maintenance rabbit. Time to break out a brush before she goes outside!
I got the baby spider plant I ordered in the mail today. I'm so excited! I learned a lesson with the baby pothos I bought before (it died), so I planted this one right away, watered it well, and stuck it in the window. It looks good so far. I hope it survives and thrives. I love spider plants, but the two we had in the past met unfortunate fates (due to the cats).
I'm still working on #4's purse. It's coming along nicely. I hope to have it done tomorrow or Saturday.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.