Sunday, 24 June 2012


I love seeing pictures of other people's homes - it helps me to connect them to their space and learn more about how they live.  Thought I'd share our place even though our renovations aren't complete and our land is far from how we want it to be just yet :)  Is it truly ever done?  I think not...

We live on 2.5 acres just 10 minutes from town.  We've been here nearly 3 years already!  Considering that we completely gutted the house inside and rebuilt it all including new siding, I think we're doing pretty well (especially considering that hubby did most of the work while working full time).  He is amazingly talented and we make a good team :)

Front and centre, halfway down the driveway.  Chicken coop is WAY in the back left corner, greenhouse attached to the carport/open bay on the left, garage and the house.  Front verandah and front door access (steps and walkway) is last to be done (next year).  The previous owners blocked it off to provide ramp access for a disabled child.  

To the right of the house - there's a fire pit and underground servicing for a second dwelling.  We may build a shop there one day.

Far left at the back - the chicken coop again with the garden in front of it, the hen run and orchard are front of that.

Greenhouse is attached to the carport, which is attached to the left side of the garage.  Garden on the left (coop in back corner).  White fabric is row covering to keep the cabbage moths off!

Turning right behind the greenhouse and walking behind the garage toward the house is my clothesline and the deck area (just being built so everything is a bit of mess).  

The deck and the access to the back door which is at the side of the house between the garage.

Front porch with a small table for morning coffee (facing east to greet the sun),  The hammock is shady and cool come afternoon when we need a break from working in the garden :)  Stack of base boarding and trim waiting to be installed in the basement when it rains - it's too nice out to be working indoors!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

These Days...

The past week has been a little busier than normal with our deck project in progress.  I've been quite industrious in the kitchen, baking and cooking to keep the work crew happy :)  It certainly has helped (they say) to keep the energy level and motivation up.  Having a skilled carpenter help us out is a great thing - while Kelly can build decks, he just doesn't have the time while working away so much.  

First up was Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins for morning coffee & then

French Bread for Chicken Salad Sandwiches at lunch.  Each day we bake something yummy for coffee breaks and something extra tasty for lunch.

The concrete truck came this morning to pour the footings for the upper portion of the deck (to be built next week).  The kids were thrilled to watch the truck in action - it was the perfect break from morning lessons.

The younger 3 have been working to get their lesson work finished by lunchtime so that we can be outside for the afternoon.  I've been helping them in between cooking and baking - which if you know me is rather funny...  I get side tracked so easily and usually my recipes suffer terribly when I get distracted :)  The kids have learned to wait until I've assembled all the ingredients before they ask me for help, LOL.

I spent the afternoon in the garden doing some much needed weeding.  This is the time for weeds to come on in full force and I'm finally learning to look at it as a gift.  If I manage them correctly (never letting them flower and waiting until just after a rain to work them), they can actually be very good for the soil.  Pulling them or hoeing them is easy when the soil is damp, and leaving them to decompose on top of the soil next to the rows of veggies seems to work wonders.  I do give some to the chickens as well :)

The cabbages are looking nice, aren't they?  This variety is Copenhagen.

From afar, things look sparse, but up close they are doing quite well.  It's early yet because I finished planting a little late this year.  To the right, are rows of carrots just coming up and these brassicas are all grown under the white fabric row covers - as I've mentioned before, the cabbage moths are TERRIBLE pests here and their larvae can destroy a full crop of brassicas in a matter of just a few days.  Today was windy and overcast - the perfect day for lifting the row cover to weed without risking attracting the little pests!

This hoop house in the background has some tomatoes in it.   I think I'm going to remove the plastic as they are early maturing varieties and it's difficult to water under there.  I really could better use the hoop house for my melons as they need the benefit of the plastic far more than these hardy variety tomatoes do (Stupice and Manitoba). 

Here's a glimpse of the deck :)  It's not finished yet, but at least (after 3 years of waiting), we can finally set up our table and chairs to eat outside as a family!  It's at the back of our house (the West side), so we will be able to enjoy the evening sunsets while sitting on the deck - so perfect.  I am dreaming of the landscaping that I'll do, and of course my brick oven that I plan to build right where that pile of dirt is sitting :)

Speaking of dirt.... (just to be real) this is what our bathtub looks like after the kids and I have showered at the end of the day.  We seem to all be covered in dirt by suppertime, which in my opinion is a very good thing :)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Random moments in the week

Such exciting and busy times for our family...  there is a lot going on right now (more than I share here) so my posting has been scarce.  It's all good - just very busy with family life and of course, it's full steam ahead with the garden here at Little Home In The Country :)


Our oldest son, Mitchell and his wife, Kelsey bought a lovely old boat (complete with a trailer) for a few hundred dollars.  They both love to camp and fish, so this is a wonderful thing for them and their future family. Our kids pitched in to help clean it up and get it ready for their first weekend camping trip (which was a success).

Another wonderful thing - as a complete surprise, Paige and Reece made supper for me all on their own.  A spinach salad with fruit (YUM!) and some wraps complete with candles and a nice little table setting on the deck.  Moments like these are unforgettable - this Mama LOVES tender gestures such as these...  

After a brief rain, a beautiful double rainbow graced the sky tonight.  What a spectacular sight - they were HUGE!  I couldn't get them all in one picture, so I had to take 2.

Not all of my gardening efforts are utilitarian food production.  After a few years without much in the way of flowers, it was high time to bring some blooms back into my life.  I'm enjoying my pots of flowers so much - it's amazing how much happiness some flowers can bring.

Today found me dealing with an urgent problem.  These are the youngest chicks that we hatched out last month in our incubator.  I had put them in with the older pullets yesterday, but the babies were getting pecked too much, so I had to build this enclosure today to give them some space to grow a little bigger before introducing them to the other chickens again.  Poor things were terrified and all huddled up in the corner of the chicken tractor. They are now happily scratching about in this small pen and we plan to bring them greens each day to supplement their feed and keep them healthy.

These raspberry canes are LOADED with blossoms and as a consequence, the bees are literally buzzing in the patch ALL DAY LONG.  I can literally hear the buzzing from 50 feet away!

Finally, my carrots are up enough to actually SEE them in a photo.  5 long rows should keep us in carrots for the winter... last year I planted 4 rows and we sadly ran out.  the beans and greens are all doing well - with the sunshine we've had, things should be taking off and growing rapidly now.

I'm excited to have some Hollyhocks in my vegetable garden this year!  I planted them last year in hopes of enjoying some blooms this summer while I work away in the food garden :)

I also planted some flowers in this old dresser...  I love how the peeling paint ads to the charm of it.  You might think it's ugly, but I love quirky things in my garden :)

The tomatoes are doing well - this is what they look like after some severe pruning.  I'm trying to maximize the harvest and reduce the foliage to keep blight and mildew out of the greenhouse.  Lots of air flow is important so I've always got a good cross breeze blowing through.  Still lots of blooms can be seen and there are bees buzzing around in there so hopefully, I'll see some tomatoes soon!

...and lastly - we had our son, Ian and a friend of the family working on our new deck all last week.  We are so excited to finally have an area for seating the family for outdoor meals and entertaining friends.  It's a little hard to tell, but when you come out the side door, you will be able to access the deck from a set of stairs leading down to the lower level.  By the end of this week, it should be done so stay tuned for more pictures.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Metamorphosis (Inside)

Yesterday, we watched a miraculous process up close and in person, right in the kitchen over a family breakfast.  

3 weeks ago we were watching TEENY, TINY black caterpillars feed and grow.  They ate and ate and grew and grew and gradually set themselves into their "changing state". 
A chrysalis.  

We waited (not very patiently) for what seemed like forever for "something" to happen. Just when the kids and I had forgotten about them, they emerged into stunning Painted Ladies.  Just like that.  

It took our breath away.


All the wonderful things in our life take a healthy dose of patience to accomplish.

Patience seems to be our (my) life lesson.

 Jaime, you have me figured out.  


Monday, 11 June 2012

The busy season

is upon us :)

  Blogging takes a back seat to planting, weeding, seeding, transplanting, staking, watering, covering, uncovering and digging.

The greens garden is doing well - we've enjoyed kale, spinach and lettuce from it so far.  Peas are growing up along the fence, and brassicas are tucked in under the row cover to avoid the pesky cabbage moths!

Mrs. Blue is busy, too :)  She and her sister have both been broody for over 2 weeks - sadly we have no fertile eggs for her to sit on at the moment...

These strawberry plants are busy blooming and I've been busy keeping the weeds from taking over the bed! Stubborn quack grass is my enemy here...

We have (at long last) a new deck being build at the back of the house.  Work starts tomorrow!  I can't wait to have a place to gather and share meals with family and friends after 3 years of waiting...

The lumber for the project was delivered on Saturday.  We received 5 quotes and got a great deal on the whole order.  It really pays to shop around....

Rain barrels have been placed near the garden...  no time for fancy spigots just yet... it's crude, but it works to dip the watering can so until things settle down here, that's just what I'll be doing.

And again...  by the greenhouse.  This one siphons easily with a hose.  I can't wait until we have some time to side the greenhouse to pretty it up a bit.  Never mind - it's what's inside that counts, right?  Patience.

These tomatoes are 2 very early varieties that are exceptionally cold hardy (Manitoba and Stupice). They were planted in the main garden to free up greenhouse space for later and more tender varieties.  I've removed the hoop house cover to allow the plants to receive a good soaking as we've had a lot of rain lately which is so nice for the garden - much better than watering.

My herbs and flowers that are interplanted in the garden are all coming up!  These are calendula and will hopefully benefit the potatoes :)

My greenhouse tomatoes are LOADED with blossoms!  That rich chicken manure sure does a great job feeding them and the collected rain water that I've been watering with seems to be the icing on the cake.

These watermelon seedlings are ready to go in the ground ~ don't they look healthy?  They love the greenhouse.

A lovely peony, given to me by my neighbour... theirs needed to be divided and moved.  I know that it will need a long time to settle into a new home, so I'll have to be patient.  I can do that.  Good things are worth the wait!

And last but not least, tomatoes for my son and his wife.  They are now settled comfortably into a basement suite which means they have space for a little garden while they save for their house!

This is the time of year so full of life and activity... I'm in my element!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Evening Rounds

Evening rounds are so peaceful in the summer - it's one of my favourite times of day, giving me the chance to reflect on what we have accomplished in the peace and quiet after a long and busy day.  The birds provide the background music with their late evening chatter and the cats usually follow me around to keep me company, hopeful for one last mouse to finish off the day.  Can you see the moon?  The pink and orange glow of the sunset on the double gate is an invitation to walk out back tonight to see the sunset. We'll see that in a minute, but first we have rounds to do.  Care to join me?

Let's check on the blueberry plants.  I was afraid that they didn't survive the winter, but after some TLC yesterday, I think they'll make it.  We'll have to provide better winter protection this year because a lot of branches died off.  These bushes haven't done very well in the 2 years they've been planted, so I need to do some reading about what to do to help them out.  I know that they like acid soil but that's about the extend of my knowledge.

Ian worked the chain saw yesterday to help me do some much needed tree pruning out front.  We've still got some more branches to deal with and I sure wish I had a chipper! 

A peek at the seeded perennials looks promising.  I'm planning a large perennial bed at the front of our house which currently has NO FLOWERS of any kind.  The previous owners were not gardeners, so we're starting from bare grass.   Our other goal this year is to naturalize some of our land with wildflowers in order to attract more pollinating insects to the property.  Now that my food garden is finally all seeded, I can get to work preparing areas to plant both these perennials and the wildflower seeds.  Let's carry on...

Our evening rounds reveal an exciting glimpse into July.  It looks like this will be the year that our raspberry canes will finally offer up a red, juicy bounty.  The 3 year wait will be so worth it!

The apple trees are still flowering, still fragrant, and still buzzing with bees although it's fast coming to an end with leafing out now happening in full force.

Let's make a quick stop in the greenhouse to check on the tomatoes and the melon seedlings.  All is good, so let's close it up for the night.  The large number of flies in there remind me (again) to buy some screening from the hardware store so I can staple it up to keep them out of the open windows!

Lincoln gets a brush most days and we leave the hair for the birds.   They use it to line their nests :) 

On to the chickens.  Let's try and get the "teenagers" in for the night.  It's not so easy when it's still light out at this late hour!  These Marans and the Olive Egger in the background are 3 months old and FULL of mischief!  The Maran breed seems very flighty as compared to the other heritage breed poultry, but that rooster is sure handsome isn't he?  Every day, he gets more colour and his "crow" is starting to develop.  He tries to look all "important" but when he crows, but his voice breaks and it sounds terrible!  He gets all embarrassed looking and he runs off to hide from the other chickens.  Silly rooster.  We finally shoo them all in and they're safely locked in to the chicken tractor for the night.  The same is done for the older hens, although they are all nicely on their roosts in the coop at a much more civil hour than these rowdy teenagers!

Thought you like to see the "hang out" place for the older hens...  an old snag found in the ditch and a crude scrap lumber build have created a place for the girls to hang out and watch the goings on with the kids.  They can see the pool and the trampoline from here and they are VERY keen on following the kids around to see what they're doing.  Our hens are just like dogs :)

Let's collect the last of the eggs but as I've forgotten the basket (again), I use my shirt to carry them (again).

Before we go inside, let's go out back to see the sunset and check on the farmer's field behind us.  I'm curious to see if his crop is coming up yet.  Remember this picture from Winter?

Here's the same spot now in early Summer :)  

We walk through and look

to the left to see acres of green shoots peeking out...  I can't tell what the crop is just yet, though...

and to the right - the sun is quickly setting in the distance.   Another busy day ends with a burst of colour.

  Thanks for joining me on my evening rounds.  Let's do it again soon!