Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The last view of 2008

31 December, 2008, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Today is blustery. No, today is gusty. Wind gusts of 50 miles an hour, or so, are keeping the wind chimes clanging and the trees roaring. Every now and again something odd blows across the front yard and into the edge of the woods. Frequently something ominously bangs or creaks. Still, it's absolutely gorgeous outside.

Yesterday was so mild. I was hoping to paint outside today. I think I'll head out to the studio after lunch and work from a relatively draft-free environment.

The daily paintings are going well. I'm painting more naturally/realistically than I anticipated. And I'm thinking a lot about how I like to make my art. Once I have some sound theories, I'll write them down, or maybe not. Maybe I'm thinking too hard.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The more things change...

too big
From this....

mr. smug
... to this in 9 months.
What a year.

For the last year I have said that 2007 sucked. It did - my mother died, friends died. It was not a happy time. I thought it was the worst year ever. I now revise my earlier thoughts and crown 2008 the worst year ever. Worst. Year. Ever. (Don't worry, this post gets better I promise)

Let's recap, shall we? Back pain, lots of it. Add hip pain as well. No obvious cause. I spend months and thousands on physical therapy. Little relief. I can at least move again. Collapse of economy led to collapse of Charlie's company. I get laid off by my husband. Hmm... Another summer of drought conditions means gardening is hard. Gardening at our level with back pain is hard. Chickens won't lay eggs. Promised money from past clients refuses to arrive in our coffers. Internal restructuring of budget at Little Creek Farm means the Monkey must leave sweet Montessori school and start public education. Two days before Christmas Charlie is laid off from his job.

Now the positive. I can move again and have started my own physical therapy - walking. The Monkey and I are taking daily walks, talking and watching the world go slowly by. Collapse of the company gave me more time to paint and spend with the Monkey. Garden did surprisingly well during drought. We built a root cellar and it is stocked with loads of potatoes, beets, and jars of canned produce. Chickens who don't lay eggs make wonderful stock. They also make us laugh as living yard ornaments. Ducks do lay eggs and are even funnier to watch. Coffers are empty - I'm trying to think of something positive, really I am. Oh! At least we've been able to pay our mortgage. And my anger at the clients who just didn't pay us is subsiding, they are probably worse off than us. Maybe.

And while I love Montessori education methods, Monkey was not really happy this year in a much smaller class. Enrollment was down to the lovely economy and her class was really just too small (there were only 3 first graders). Her best friend left and she felt all alone. It's not good to see your child so lonely. Her new class in public school seems much more suited to her personality. There are lots of kids, a giant playground, the cafeteria, music class, art class, computer lab, LIBRARY, gym and more activities. She is very excited to start.

And Charlie... He's a smart, talented guy. He's been stressing. This was not the plan. He should be able to find another job. I've also accepted the fact that I probably won't find the "perfect" job anytime soon. I'm now looking at anything that will help pay the bills. From my point of view, this is the perfect time for some reinvention. Perhaps I'll find the perfect job. Who knows? And all the drama has actually brought us closer together. We spend more time together. We talk more. And we still have hope. Which is good. Very good.

Perhaps 2008 isn't the worst year ever. Let's call it a year of change. And change is good, right?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Growing with the season

cold frames, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Gardening is understandibly slow right now. Under these little portable greenhouses/cold frames lettuce and greens are thriving. Beets are flourishing. These little plants have been easy to fool, even with the below freezing temperatures we've had the last couple of days. There's no need to pull weeds and nature has been providing the moisture. I could get into winter gardening, if it weren't for the cold.

I happen to think Charlie's design is rather ingenious. The only flaw seems to be their ability to catch the wind and go flying. Far. Far Away. These houses are securely anchored to posts after a couple of blustery days set them sailing. We had high winds the night before last and the one frame that was not covering a thing, thus not anchored, ended up about an acre away in the woods. Remarkably, it held together.

They are neat and tidy, efficient and multi-purpose. I'm planning on removing the plastic in the spring and replacing it with wire. Then the little greenhouses can become little chick and duckling nurseries. They will also allow us to get the tomato plants out and protected earlier. And think how pretty they'll be covered in row cloth. Sometimes Charlie amazes me with the things he comes up with. He couldn't stand the look of my natty row covers and had to come up with something that met his high aesthetic standards. I have to admit they are much prettier than my hoops and cloth coverings. I'm pretty lucky to have him.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Purple States

Today is "my" day at Purple States. Check it out.

Little lights

little light, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

It's the season of waiting and watching. It's the time of lighting candles against the darkness. I have been in such a dark hole, and am slowly climbing out following the little lights of Advent. Monkey is counting down each day of Advent in anticipation of Christmas - more for the hope of presents than for the coming of longer days or the messiah (whichever you prefer).

Me, I'm watching and waiting for many things. I'm watching the ground and the rain in anticipation of spring, still months away. Seed catalogs have started to arrive and I'm dreaming and hoping, plotting and planning. I'm patiently (although patience is wearing thin as a virture) waiting for promised funds to arrive. I don't as well with debt as I do with the cycle of seasons. In the mean time I'm trying to hold all the little pieces together.

Our Christmas may not be extravagant this season, but we have each other. The days will get longer soon and the light will begin to return.

In an effort to keep my thoughts positive and engaged, I've started a new project. I'm doing a painting (or drawing, or something) everyday. You can view them at Little Visions. For my birthday, Charlie winterized my drafty studio and now I can work! We may not be romantic here at Little Creek Farm, but we are practical sometimes...

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm not a fan of cold...

11 December, 2008, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

We had two days of warm weather and rain. Four inches of rain. There is finally water in the creek again. Now we're back to cold. The goats are not happy. At least the sun is shining. That always helps my spirits pick up a bit.

We got the release from Monkey's school district yesterday and today are meeting the principal of what will hopefully be her new school. She doesn't seem to be sad at all to leave the Montessori school. I think this has to do with the fact that one of her friends told her all about the school cafeteria. There's nothing like the promise of nachos for lunch to lure a first grader.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What can I say? It's been awhile.

Life has been throwing me lots of punches lately. So, I just put certain things on the back burner for awhile. I have missed my blog, but the need to focus on family, finances, and sanity were a stronger pull. My friend Cinnamon has pulled me back. She and her husband have a project - Purple States and invited me to be their blogger from North Carolina. So, I'm thinking and planning and will be posting soon. North Carolina is coming up awfully fast!

Life on the farm keeps chugging along with the seasons. As long as we can make that mortgage payment we should be ok. I'm getting used to not really working and not finding a job. It really sucks to have to close a small business. Being laid off by your spouse is the worst. (I'm not bitter at all...) Charlie is loving his new job, although he did take a 10% pay cut along with everyone else this fall. Times are tough when you are even remotely connected to real estate. We have been making lots of cuts here at Little Creek Farm. Monkey will be leaving her private Montessori school at Christmas Break and will start the second semester of first grade in the world of public education. Right now we are working on getting her into the elementary school of our choice. You see, we sit right on the wrong side of a district dividing line. We are closer to one school (the one we want) than the other one, but such are the vagaries of the county system. Keep your fingers crossed for the Monkey.

We finished our root cellar earlier this fall and it is stocked with potatoes,sweet potatoes, beets, cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple sauce, apple jam, apple butter, strawberry jam and way too many green beans. Who needs money for groceries??? It's not that bad, yet. Really.

We managed to put together some great row cover/cold frames and have a huge crop of greens, lettuce and beets thriving under cover. Gardening is easy this time of year... And the seed catalogs have started to arrive and make us a little more optimistic about things. The thought of new things growing in the spring, even though it is far off, can't help but make us happy.

The animals are all hunkered down for the winter. I'm saving up for a new batch of hens this spring. My old girls are not laying. I haven't seen an egg in weeks. For the last couple of years we kept the henhouse lighted. That meant by fooling the hens we got more eggs. They didn't really get to rest though. So this year no artificial light means no eggs.

O.K. Everyone caught up? Charlie has a job. Maggie doesn't. Maggie needs one (or will accept winning the lottery in place of gainful employment...). The farm is ok. The bears are hibernating. The goats are fat and wooly and the chickens are lazy. Monkey will learn about standarized testing this year. And everyone is receiving jars of jam and barbeque sauce for Christmas.

I'm back, I promise.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Living in the Wild

hey, it's empty!, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I love living with nature, but sometimes it can be a little too close. We had ursine visitors today - A mamma and THREE cubs. I now know how Monkey's pool got broken. They all had a swim, pulled down the bird feeders and headed off into the woods. I banged a few pots together to send them on their way.

Now I have to keep an eye out for Monkey and the dogs, not to mention the chicken house and goats. This particular bear and cubs wander all over the valley, although this is the first visit to our house that I've witnessed.

Some bears destroyed our friend's orchard across the valley this weekend. There's not a lot of food for them out there right now because of the drought. They better leave my berry bushes alone, or else...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Three Ducklings

three ducklings, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

This week three little ducklings joined our menagerie. We've had horrible luck in hatching this year. Of course, I haven't been very attentive to the situation and have left it all up to nature and the whims of broody hens.

Most of this hatch didn't make it. There were a lot of fully formed chicks that just didn't hatch properly. I'm not sure why. The crested duckling may be a clue as the crested gene has a fatal gene connection somehow. (I just skimmed over most of the crested information in my reading). I do have one duck with a very tiny bump of a crest and she must be this one's mother.

The three are very happy in the brooder. We are playing with them in hopes that they'll be a little more people friendly than their parents. They're just so cute and fluffy!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Say hello to my little friend

boo boo chicken, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

The Monkey named her Boo Boo Chicken. She's a Polish bantam and like to ride on my shoulder. I don't think she can see too well, but she's awfully cute in a goofy sort of way.

A friend gave her to me along with two Ameracaunas and a Silver-Pencilled Rock bantam. I helped him out this spring by giving him a couple of laying hens. When his chick order came, he raised them up to a decent size and passed on four to me.

Funny looking creature.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back from the brink

red sunflower

I took a much needed break from everything for most of June and July. I seriously have ignored almost everything except the garden - it helped mentally, physically and spiritually. It always does. I'm feeling much better now, enough said. Now let's move on.

The garden is literally buzzing. Bees (honey, mason, bumble and all) are everywhere. I've yet to be stung. I move slowly and no one seems to mind my plodding and poking. Did you know that different bees have different sounds? Really. Each type buzzes a little differently. I told you I've been spending a lot of time in the garden.

In the spring we started building walls for our raised beds out of rock. We have a lot of rock. I should be honest and say Charlie started building walls. I haven't been able to move too many rocks in a while. They look nice and have become home to many little garden predators. I'm getting over my arachniphobia. Spiders are good... Also, we have tons of toads. O.K., not tons, but more than ever. Monkey and I have made several toad homes for them. I don't think they actually use them, but they look cute in the garden.

My tomato plants are looking spectacular and a few of the fruits are ripening. I've been hand-watering them lavishly. The lack of rain and an heavy mulch of pine straw has kept them mostly disease free. Next week I may start selling them at market, but right now we are hording the first of the crop as our own. Stupice has again this year taken first place in early ripening. Charlie wolfed down the first Black Prince that I plucked. Greedy man. But he has done most of the heavy work this year, so I'll forgive him.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Enlightenment - one second too late

Have you ever had that flash of insight that tells you "I really shouldn't be right here, right now"?

I had one of those today when facing a 1200 pound beastie who was thinking about bolting and I was standing smack dab in the middle of her only escape route. I noticed her decision to "spook" in the tensing of muscles, the flick of a nostril and the roll of her eye. (Never mind that she was escaping from a big block of dock styrofoam that had somehow ended up in the middle of the riding path. And that she had stood quietly while I dismounted and removed it from the path. And it was styrofoam and she is a big horse... The equine mind is one vast vacuum.)

I now have a slightly swollen, bruised foot with very little skin left on the top. It's not too bad. I can move all toes and walk with only a slight limp. I only have three more days at camp. But I am rather angry with myself for standing in that particular spot at that particular moment. In her defense, once she stepped on my foot she did a rather agile twist (thus the removal of skin...) to avoid taking me completely out.

Monkey has had a rather positive time with the horses. Today she had a private lesson with me as the campers all left for the weekend. She says she wants to gallop, but for the moment we are staying at a walk. I did let her trot today. She's my girl. I'm thinking Charlie and I better start saving for a pony...

Monkey and Champ

Oh, and I saw the fox kits again. I think I'll go out early tomorrow morning with my camera (if I can walk...).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Living in the woods


One of the things I love most about summer camp is that it allows children to experience the world at a different pace. There is a schedule, of course; but within that framework there is time to see the world in a different light.

This morning I was on a trailride with 10 girls. As one child decided not to ride, Monkey rode along with us. As we came into the cover of trees from an open field, we had an issue with one of the horses (they've been out to pasture all winter and the first week or so they can be rather "frisky"). While I helped the one girl, the rest of the group stayed still around us. A camper heard something in the woods, just off the trail, and then three of them saw a grey fox kit in the shadows. Then they saw another and the mother. Amazing. We were all able to see them (twice, as we had to pass by the spot again). A grey fox is a rare sight. Her den must be right there off of the field and near the trail to the lake. I guess living that close to camp has made her a little braver than most and we were graced to see her little brood in the shaded underbrush.

One of the girls commented that if the horse hadn't acted up, we may never have seen the foxes. Quite true. If we hadn't stopped in just that spot, we wouldn't have noticed the rather well camouflaged kits. Today we were thankful for a difficult situation that allowed us to glimpse the magic all around us.

Take time to look in the shady spots and to the sides of the path you are on. No telling what you will see.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monkey Hood

Monkey Hood, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Monkey is taking to the summer camp lifestyle swimmingly. We've canoed, swam, and shot arrows. We are working on a bird house in arts and crafts. We are here to mainly be training the horseback staff. Monkey is turning into quite the little equestrian. Hmmm, should we make Charlie buy a pony? It could live with the goats...

It is hot as Hades here in Georgia. The Monkey trotted on a trail ride yesterday - a big deal. I've been sweating my butt off in the barn on a daily basis. Hot, hot, hot. I was much more resilient in my 20's. So, this afternoon we are heading to the pool.

Charlie sent news from Little Creek Farm. There was a hidden nest of eggs with one little hen on it. So, that's where all my eggs were going. Good thing to know, I suppose. Let's keep our fingers crossed for a few new chicks. The first carrots are coming in. Oh and it's hot. Hot, hot, hot.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Yes, we are alive...


Has it really been since April 10 since I last posted anything? Well, apparently so. Sorry.

I needed a little "me" time. I basically shut down all non-essential things in my life for awhile - it was the stress of closing a business. If you haven't figured out by now, the economy is taking a big down-turn. We laid off employees, circled the wagons and hunkered down for a month or so.

Things are looking much better. Charlie was offered a rather high-paying job from a client, and accepted. The garden is rocking. Monkey just started summer vacation. And you wouldn't believe how big the puppy has gotten. He's a monster. A golden-eyed, shoe-stealing, monster.

The Monkey and I are taking off for summer camp today, but will be back to the farm in a week. I promise to post more frequently and am thinking of wonderful things to write. (I actually had several fantastic posts that never were written in May...)

I'm excessively happy with the results of the Democratic primary and the winner of American Idol by the way....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

the future holds cherries and geese

"Starkrimson" sweet cherry, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Cherry blossoms hold such hope! The wild ones are blooming as well in the woods. There are clothes drying on the line. It feels like spring.

And, one of the geese has started to lay (which is good). She built a beautiful nest and layed a lovely egg - right in the goat stall (which is bad). Now what am I supposed to do??? Hmmm, must think...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Puppy Tuesday on Wednesday

what?, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Today's work - process invoices then take a puppy break. Life is hard.

We took a walk in the woods after a morning of boring. There are new things to discover each day. I found a vast amount of crested iris just coming out of the ground and wild geraniums are carpeting the forest floor. Blooms should follow soon. It will be a year ago this weekend when we had our second nasty freeze and lost the greenhouse to gale force winds. The blueberries have started to bloom, so are the strawberries. The sweet cherry has a few blossoms open and the apples and pie cherries aren't far behind. It's easy to see why the freeze was so damaging last year.

I'm keeping all fingers crossed that the weather remains mild and spring-like.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It's spring and I'm busy as a...

little helper, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I'm busy as a you-know-what. This time of year there is so much to do around the farm. For the last two weeks we've been planting - peas, lettuce, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes. Radish seedlings and peas are starting to pop out of the ground. Inside we've started tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and cauliflower. There are onions and more onions (scallions and keepers) to put in the ground. There is also a flat of lettuce starts waiting on me. I'm waiting impatiently on the arrival of our potato order which was shipped last week. Charlie will have to plant those. I have a letter from my doctor excusing me from heavy work...

The hens are upping their egg production and I've started a collection to put in the incubator. Normally I store them in the cool garage until I have enough, but yesterday's temperatures were around 80 degrees so the eggs are in the house where it's a tiny bit cooler. The ducks have been moulting. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that one of them will go broody. I'm hoping that the geese will do the same. If not, I'll load up the incubator after the chicks hatch. We didn't order any chicks this year. The money situation is rather tight at the moment and my eggs are free.

Ah, and money - it is tight. We have a company to run. And if you haven't heard, there is a recession going on. And we are an area that some consider a luxury. Thank god, not everyone considers their landscape and natural resources a luxury, but still... Our expansion funding didn't come through (at least not yet...) and we had four expected clients (that would be loads of money...) decide to not sign contracts at this time (so really, no need to expand, really). One client has cut back so much that it is basically non-existent. It's not good to be tied to the real estate market at the moment. We had to make some really tough decisions in the last couple of weeks. We stopped our expansion and had to lay off a few employees. Hopefully, we will be able to hire them back soon. We've decided to use one as a contract employee. And after talking to our accountant Charlie decided to not move into the new office space in downtown Asheville, but convert space here at home to office space.

It does make more sense. The garage is big enough for office space down and a studio/loft up top. And money spent on it only increases the value of property we already own. Most of our work is done on-site and on-line. There really is no need for expensive rental property. I'm also excited because we are going to go back to doing some residential work - just design, no installation. That's easy, creative and enjoyable. You draw what fits in someone's budget and meets their needs; they pay you (half up front, of course) and you're done. I'm hopeful that we'll be back to turning a profit soon. Oh, and the dogs are excited that they get to go to work everyday. Anyone for a frisbee break? I'm going to go plant lettuce.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Puppy Tuesday!

why he's tired, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

It was almost 80 degrees today. I really have a bunch of things I want to write about, but I'm over the top busy. So enjoy Moonpie and Tank as they enjoy spring.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

coq au vin

coq au vin, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

There's really only one way to take care of an extremely unpleasant rooster.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Puppy Tuesday

puppy tuesday, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I could seriously take pictures of him all day long. I'll try to show some restraint. We are trying out the names "Goose" and "Tank", but we most often end up calling him "Little Man".

We had a wonderful weekend. It was a great start to spring break. Saturday's weather was the best so far this year. It was around 70 degrees and sunny. We all were sporting lightly sunburned cheeks.

The garden called. I planted shallots and a lettuce. Charlie butchered one rooster, two guinea fowl and a turkey hen. We spent the afternoon clearing vines out of the woods and cleaning up the streambed.

The turkey was close to 40 pounds. We roasted one side of the breast for Easter dinner. Oh, it was so good! The rooster is ready to become coq au vin. Tonight I'll cut it up and put it in marinade. Monkey has been begging to eat him for months. He attacked her and has since been in solitary confinement. And to think, at one time I worried about how she would react to eating the animals...

We planted more lettuce on Sunday afternoon. It's that time. Yesterday we set up shelving in the living room (we must garden when and where we can), and started flats of peppers, cauliflower and some lemon grass. Tomatoes are next. I need to get some peat plugs. We've had the best luck with them for tomatoes. It makes it really easy to pot them up as they grow. I am missing the greenhouse, but some day we will rebuild. We have the plans, it's just that money is oh so tight at the moment. Some days owning your own business is not so pleasant (but that's a whole other blog entry...)

Today just enjoy those bright blue eyes and soft, soft fur. That's my plan for the rest of the afternoon.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring to you!

happy spring!, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

My mother presented me with a box of daffodil bulbs from her yard the first summer we moved here. After almost 4 years they are well established. When she died, I searched for something to keep her memory alive. I miss her, (I didn't know such sadness could exist until she died), however these a lovely and gentle sign of her continued presence in our hearts. I didn't need to search so hard. They were here all along.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Puppy Breath

puppy love, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

This is the last thing we need at the moment. But how could we refuse? Who would dump such a creature?

I said we would foster him and I'd start training, but I'm in love. He needs a name...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My favorite little pixie

my favorite little pixie, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

We've been spending a lot of time playing in the woods lately, especially on the warmer days. Today isn't that warm and I'm stuck inside cataloguing photos and working.

This afternoon we'll be planting peas and some lettuce. It's also time to set up the growing shelves and string up the lights to start all the tomatoes, peppers and other goodies that will go out when the soil and air are warm enough.

I'm being cautious this year. Last spring taught us what mother nature is capable of tossing our way. Here's to keeping fingers crossed and row covers ready at a moment's notice. There is already a stack of fleece blankets ready to cover the young fruit trees.

For now we'll enjoy the last brisk days of winter and look forward to spring.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Peach Blossoms

peach blossom, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

The first of the fruit trees has burst forth. Our little Saturn peach opened up some of its blooms yesterday. Saturn peaches are supposed to be frost hardy. Let's hope so. They bloom very early (earlier than the cherries). I planted it last spring. It survived the terrible hard freeze and drought of last year. The plum was not so lucky... If all goes well, we may be rewarded with some lovely flat, white peaches this summer.

The blossoms are beautiful.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fiddle head

fiddle head, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I've had questions from agaless, liz and others about starting the violin as an adult. In all truth, I didn't plan on starting it. The Monkey wanted to play the violin and I signed her up for a Suzuki class. A friend of mine teaches children. With Suzuki, it's very important for the parent to participate, so I rented myself a violin and practiced along with Monkey. Monkey amazed us with her ear. She can recognize notes and scales and rhythm with amazing accuracy. After about three months she lost interest. It was difficult for her four year old hands and she's an impatient sort (I have no idea where that comes from...). My friend thought that the violin wasn't the instrument for her - the piano might be better. And I didn't want to push a four year old, no matter how musically inclined, to play the vioin. So Monkey became a Suzuki drop-out. We plan on starting some sort of musical lessons next year when she's six.

I, however, really loved playing and continued with my friend for awhile. I bought my violin and committed myself to learning. I later switched to another teacher, mainly because of scheduling conflicts. I love my new teacher. She's young and passionate about music and playing. She's an accomplished classical player and a fiddler, who has worked on various recordings and plays in an orchestra. She challenges and encourages me - which is what I need. We sort of combine classical, Suzuki and fiddling to learn and that works great for me. I'm not her only adult student. However, most of the others played much more as children than I did . I played for about a year, and really remembered nothing. I do remember how to read music, which is a big plus. I don't remember that from violin lessons, but from my music classes in public school - when the arts were still taught and considered important...

There's a quote that has been stuck in my head lately. I have no idea who said it. I saw it on a refrigerator magnet. Profound, I know. It says, "It is never to late to become the person you want to be", or something like that. While I will never be a concert violinist or world renowned fiddler, I can enjoy making music. My goal is to be able to humbly play along with my musical friends.

I practice almost every day. Practice is easy when I'm working from home. I take a break from my work and pick up my violin. I do that several times a day. It's particularly good when I need a break from the chaos in the house. I go into the office and close the door and run through scales and bow exercises. It has taken a while, several months, to sound decent (at least to teh rest of the family). But my fingers have developed some muscle memory and know where to fall on the strings most of the time. I'm still working on my bow hand. I have arthritis in my right hand and wrist, so it's not as fluid as I would like. But the movements are helping my hand become more limber. It's good for me. Now that the weather is getting warm, I've been going outside on the porch and playing for the birds. I'm not sure how the new neighbors feel, but it has to be better than the noise created by the guinea hens.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's up duck?

what's up duck?, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

The rather inquisitive look turned out to be for a red-tailed hawk flying overhead.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

trout lily

trout lily, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I took a walk in the woods today with Gigi and Bill the Cat. Bill the Cat loves to go on walks in the woods. Gigi has taken to leaving her balls and frisbees along the trails. I told her I'm not carrying them home, but she pays little attention to me. She's sort of a rock star right now. She and I were on the news last night and today because we gave an agility demonstration at the Nature Center yesterday afternoon.

We found the first bloom of spring over by the upper spring. Later we found more down below the waterfall on the creek. I say "we", but of course I mean "me". Gigi was too busy loosing her toys and Bill was too busy climbing trees and leaping over logs.

Friday, March 07, 2008

After the storm - the view 4 March, 2008

I'm coming back from my self-enforced hiatus. I've been hibernating for most of February. I needed it. February is the worst month. But now it's March. We've had rain, the grass is greening, the tree buds are swelling (red maples are blooming), daffodils are starting to bloom, and green is starting to peek out of the leaf litter on the forest floor. It will probably snow again, but spring is coming.

I'm itching to work in the garden, but still must take it easy because of my back/hip. I'm down to one physical therapy appointment a week from three, so that's an improvement.

We've had a half an inch of rain today. That makes 2 inches for the week. There's a carolina wren singing outside my window and the bluebirds have moved back into their house on the garden fence. Bring on the longer days!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Seven Things

Lissa tagged me with a meme. I've been so busy for the last week that I just let it slip by. I also had to think of 7 random things, so here you go -

Seven Random Things You May Not (or maybe you do!) Know About Me

1. My first paying job (one with tax forms and a paycheck and such) was the Easter Bunny at the local mall. I dressed up in a giant bunny suit in a storage room near Dillard's, then walked to an Easter-themed throne near the food court. Somebody had to hold my hand and guide me because I could only see out of a tiny screened hole in the bunny head's mouth. I was 15. And then, I was the first female usher at the movie theater in my home town. Yeah, I was fighting the fight for equality in Mid-Missouri as early as 1980...

2. I left the movie theater gig (it was hard, because I was quickly becoming addicted to popcorn and the hip polyester vest) to become an exchange student it Iceland. This is before it was the ultra cool spot it is now. I spent a summer riding horses almost every day (heaven), working in a fish factory (not so heavenly) and seeing a part of the world that is extraordinary.

3. I have a Master of Fine Arts in painting. I don't paint as much as I want to. That is a major frustration in my life.

4. I spent close to 3 years as an agroforestry/environmental protection Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo. Togo is a tiny country in West Africa with something close to 45 different languages and ethnic groups. I lived in a village in a mud hut with a thatch roof. I had no running water or electricity. I did have chickens, a couple of goats and a dog. I rode a bike everywhere. I have never been more happy. I have been to Niger twice. I played in a softball tournament in the Nigerian National Stadium against the Japanese Embassy team from Nigeria (I think it was Nigeria). I never saw weapons grade uranium. I swear.

5. During my time in Africa, I visited a rainforest in Ghana where I walked an a tiny little rope bridge through the canopy. I am afraid of heights and get vertigo when I look down. How did I do it? I pretended I was Indiana Jones. True.

6. I never learned to play a musical instrument. This was somewhat intolerable to me, so last year I started violin lessons. I play a mean Suzuki repetoire and have moved on to Celtic fiddle tunes. I recently discovered my teacher (who is much younger than me) is the niece of one of my best friends. Small world.

7. I did not own a car until I was 31. I walked, rode my bike, used public transportation or borrowed a car until that point.

Now at this point, I'm supposed to tag 7 more people. I think I will let you tag yourself. I'll post the rules here. Leave a comment if you give us 7 insights, please.

Here are the rules from Lissa:

Once you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.That would be Pattie, with the link to her original post above.
Post these rules on your blog.
Post 7 random or weird facts about yourself on your blog.
Tag 7 people and link to them.Comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged for the ring.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


little creek, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

With the recent rains and snows, there is water again in our little creek. It has been almost dry since the beginning of August. I wish it were warm enough to throw open the windows and listen to the sound of it at night.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Somebody needs to check their campaign strategy

Last night as we were making dinner, the phone rang. It was a pollster asking which Republican candidate we would be voting for on Tuesday. Charlie, ever the pranskster, says Huckabee with Romney a close second, then he hangs up. Fifteen minutes later as we were sitting down to dinner, the phone rings again - John McCain would appreciate our vote on Tuesday...

The kicker (besides being registered democrats?) - we live in NORTH CAROLINA. We don't vote on Tuesday.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

The View in January

January Views, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I try for daily photos, but somedays the opportunity seems to slip right by. Almost a month of photos.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And now for something completely different

ruby crowned kinglet, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

This post has nothing to do with seeds! (Unless you count bird seed.)
This little tiny bird has been visiting the feeder for about a week. I couldn't get a good view of her to identify her. She's pretty cute.

Do you know they make hanging nests out of moss, lichen and spider webs? It's true. I bet she's ready for spring too.

I'm being buried in seeds

Really. Another order arrived from Burpee yesterday. It was sitting by the back door where our friend, UPS Man, always leaves packages. Monkey was very excited thinking a grandparent had sent her something (which they tend to do) until she shook the box. "I think it's seeds," she said, rather deflated as she handed me the box. I had the same feeling. We got over it with an ice cream sandwich.

It must be the general winter doldrums that settle on me every time this year. I feel like spring will never actually arrive. February just takes forever, doesn't it? And with a hurt back, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that all is well be the time I need to plant. There are a million (ok, slight exaggeration) things I want to be doing right now involving pitchforks, compost, animal bedding, brush piles and chainsaw, but I have to wait on someone else to do it. Frustrating.

I did notice there were a heck of a lot of peas in this order. I'm not that fond of them. However, Charlie, Monkey and tailgate customers are.)...

Mammoth Melting Sugar Pea
Super Sugar Snap Pea
Oregon Sugar Pod II Pea
Wando Pea
Cherry Belle Radish
French Breakfast Radish
Watermelon Radish
Habenero Pepper
Red Delicious Pepper
Hot Jalapeno M Pepper
Detroit Dark Red Beet
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach

That may be close to the end. I know there is still a small order from Pinetree Gardens (Which I love because while the seed packages tend to be small, they are inexpensive. I can try new things without too much financial burden.) and the potato order will arrive in the not too distant future. I'm most excited (truly!) about the mushroom order. We will be starting some oyster mushroom logs over in the woods. I will be marching over every inch of that forest hunting for morel mushrooms this spring. We do have one spot where we found them before, but I'm sure there are many more in the new woods. I was tempted to order spore, but it was very expensive and from the northwest. And I'm such a local nut, I'm wary of introducing an outside source for what nature can provide right here. Although I doubt morels from Washington would be classified as exotic invasive in the southeast...

I do miss my greenhouse. This time last year there were lettuces, spinach, radishes, peas and new potatoes growing. Charlie promises that construction will start soon on the new one. But I'm not holding my breath for it to be ready for any early plantings this year. We are way too busy (or rather he is) at work. The site is ready and I'm planning an elaborate herb garden (culinary, medicinal and heirloomy) all around it. Keep fingers crossed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Seeds, seeds, seeds

I was excited by the first seed order arrivals. Now I have decided to never give Charlie that responsibility again. You see, he has been itching to order seeds for some time. And this year, I let him. Never again. I tend to practice the art of purchasing seed with some restraint, taking into consideration cost, labor and return on my investment. Charlie saw it as an opportunity to sample everything. Luckily we have the extra garden plot to plant this year. Unluckily most of the labor will fall upon me and my newly slipped disc. Hopefully back pain will be under control before spring planting commences. Keep all fingers crossed, please. Here's what arrived over the weekend...

From Baker Creek Seeds
Golden Wax Bean
Roma II Bean
Jacob's Cattle Bean (I saved some of these for seed, but we went through them so fast)
Dragon Tongue Bean
Greasy Grits Bean (got to grow greasy beans if you live in Appalachia!)
Albino Beet
Flat of Egypt Beet
Tonda di Parigi Carrot
Atomic Red Carrot
Cosmic Purple Carrot
Lunar White Carrot
Amarillo Carrot
Mexican Sour Gherkin
Suyo Long Cucumber
Penny Rile Cowpea (I saved some of these for seed...I guess we'll have more)
Cayenne Long Thin Pepper
Rouge d'Hiver Lettuce
Golden Marconi Pepper
China Rose Radish
Japanese Minowase Daikon
Chinese Red Meat Radish
White Icicle Radish
Helios Radish
Green Zebra Tomato
Spear's Tennessee Green Tomato (love this!)
Principe Borghese Tomato
Flame (Hillbilly) Tomato
Marina di Chiogga Pumpkin (I had wanted to try this one)

From Earl May (Charlie worked for this company when he was young and just had to order seeds)
Ruby Lettuce
Forest Green Parsley
Cool Breeze Cucumber
Mrs. Pickler Cucumber
Sweeter Yet Cucumber

And if that wasn't enough, these arrived from the Cook's Garden
Vit Mache
Trionfo Violetto Pole Beans

I'm worried. Perhaps it will all seem much better when the days get a little longer and a little warmer... For now, I'm waiting on the Burpee order. There's no telling what will be arriving. Oh the trepidation!

Oh and I still haven't ordered any chicks! I have to get on that this week. It's time to replace some of the older hens and I have a few friends that want to get in on the order. Charlie wants to raise some meat birds this year. It looks like I'm going to be one busy farm girl.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Blogger ate my post...

So here I go again, only condensed (I really do need to work...).

The mailman just dropped off a small packet stuffed with seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Stupice Tomato
Hungarian Italian Paste Tomato
Eva Purple Ball Tomato
Cossack Pineapple Ground Cherry

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts of Spring

The weather here has been, to say the least, miserable. We've had a couple of nights in the single digits. On nights like that I worry about the chickens' combs. The Sussex and a few others have single combs that seem quite susceptible to frost bite. Last night Charlie had to shoo the ducks and geese out of the goat shed and into the chicken house. He said goats and waterfowl were all huddled together in a disturbing way. Everyone made it through the night o.k. and with temperatures climbing into the high 30s, we may even be able to get water running to them this afternoon. We've carried buckets down to them several times a day the last several days.

While Winter has been reminding us of its existence, the promise of gentler weather has arrived in the form of seed packets. The first of our giganormous seed orders have arrived. We will be not only gardening our rather generous garden, but another 40' by 80' plot donated by a neighbor this year to meet market and our own needs. So we have room to experiment and continue on with old favorites.

From Appalachian Seeds we received Black Prince and Akers West Virginia tomatoes. There is a six packet minimum in the seed order that Charlie somehow got around. I've been thoroughly happy with the seeds and plants I've gotten from them in the past. This was also the original source for Black Prince that I loved so much. I'm looking forward to it again and have plans to save seeds this time.

From Johnny's came:
Maxibel French Filet Beans
Jade Bush Green Beans
Alibi Hybrid Pickler Cucumber
Green Bibb Buttercrunch Lettuce
Graffiti Purple Cauliflower
Cheddar Orange Cauliflower
Purple Haze Carrot
Chioggia Beet
Full Moon Pumpkin

The Touchstone Gold Beet is expected to arrive at the end of February and Russian Red Garlic will arrive for planting in the fall.

For now the garden sleeps under mounds of goat and chicken bedding and rows of matted oats.
But soon, it will be time to play!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What I do on Snow Days

moebius scarf, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I just finished this little scarf. You see, I received several skeins of handspun yarn for Christmas. The only problem was that no two skeins have anything (color, weight, animal source) in common. So I have to come up with projects for one skein. It's soft merino, comfy and toasty and it took no time to knit up on US13 needles.

So I'm ready for the second winter storm warning in 3 days (although the 1/2 inch that's fallen in the last hour or so might be all there is).

Oh, and next time I try to take a picture of myself remind me to put on some makeup or something, jeez.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Be Prepared

In the unlikely event this should ever happen, I think we should be prepared.

Oh, and the first seed order has arrived at the office. I'll post all about it soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another snow day and time to take pictures

female cardinal, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

I don't think the weather was as bad as forecasted, but we did have a snow day today. There is still snow on the ground, it's just not very fun to play in. We've had rain and sleet on and off for a large chunk of the day.

What do we do on snow days when the snow is there, but not "sleddable"? Well, let's see. Monkey has built a fort out of blankets, couch cushions and several chairs. Apparently she plans to sleep in it and never let boys enter.

Snow Days are also Pajama Days. Around noon, Charlie looked up from his laptop and said to me, "Hey! Take off your jeans. We only wear pajamas here!" Silly me. He even went to the barn in his pajamas this morning.

I've been outside and played with the goats, threw a frisbee for Gigi and took some photos. I should be working (like Charlie did all day), but it's a snow day! Oh, it's also a good day to watch birds at the birdfeeder. Enjoy Mrs. Cardinal. She doesn't attack my car like her mate does.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My favorite view from the weekend

12 January, 2008, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Freezing fog is an interesting phenomenon.

Onto other thoughts -

Dear Republican Candidates advertising for the South Carolina Primary,

Will you please stop telling us what good christians you are and talk about where you stand on some of the issues. There is really a snow ball's chance in hell that I would vote for any of you, but it's annoying to think that you believe the only thing Southerners care about is your faith and your belief that life begins at conception. Economy? War? Health Care? Come on! I think it is truly time for a revolution...


O.K. I've had my rant and now I'm off to shower and go to work. Back later with my general avoidance of politics.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pretty Boy

pretty boy, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

If only I could figure out who his parents are. He could be almost anything, although as a chick he looked like a pale speckled sussex. He looks nothing like one now. He does have a single comb.

Pretty Boy is from the surprise hatch at the end of summer. That's him on the right of the photo. I still can't seem to get a photo that does justice to the colors.

He's turned into a rather fine natured, and somewhat shy rooster. He has the deepest crow. I think we may just keep him out of the stew pot and in the barnyard.

I figured it was time for a farm animal to get a post. It's been a while.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

snow bunny

snow bunny, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Monkey finally gets some real snow - her first in two years! Generally snow days mean icy roads in the morning and slush by noon.

Snow Day Pizza

My aunt sent the Monkey a pizza making kit for Christmas. Today was a snow day (we've got about 6 inches and it's still coming down), so we made pizza for lunch. I know she visits the blog regularly, so I thought we'd share some pizza pictures. Monkey is a regular pizza queen. She did almost all the work. Somehow I ended up doing the washing up. Typical.

starting the yeast
Mixing the dough

mixing dough

Starting the yeast

kneading dough Kneading the dough

deep dish pizza!

A little while later... pizza! Which would you like - Pepperoni or Mushroom?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

cardinal, originally uploaded by maggiesfarm.

I was out taking photos with the new camera in the woods today. A half an hour later, I was inside with a nasty episode of Raynaud's. So, Charlie removed the screen to the back window and I played with the new telephoto lens while the birdies visited the feeders. This guy likes to hang out and look cool. He also likes to attack the mirrors of my car and has been known to sit inside when the sunroof is open. Weirdo.

We've stuffed ourselves on black-eyed peas (Penny Rile - an heirloom variety we grew in the garden this, I mean last year), corned beef, greens and cabbage. Charlie swears there'e a corned beef New Year's tradition... I ate mostly peas. It's back to work and school tomorrow, unless of course, our weatherman is actually correct and we get several inches of snow. I'm beginning to doubt it. At least the temperature dropped today and it felt a little like winter.

Happy New Year everyone!