Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

So, two weeks later this little guy has become king of the homestead. Well, he thinks so any way. He has the run of a quarter acre and if I have to say so, I think they make them cute so we keep them. He has punctured my skin, chewed on my pant legs, stolen my boots, and I cannot get any sweeping or dust mopping done unless he's in the crate. I am exhausted, but for the last few nights he has been sleeping for at least eight hours. Not bad for ten weeks. I think he has doubled in size in two weeks and has a wonderful appetite. The vet says he's very healthy. Hunter is a thinker and problem solver and it's hard to stay ahead of him. I was totally unprepared to have a puppy in the house and a few times I've wanted to find him a new home. Hopefully with warmer weather we can learn to get along better. Together we have a lot to learn.

This past weekend we had some major tilling done to start our pollination garden. CCH Lawn and Landscape spent several hours clearing the yard. We are on our way to being known as 50,000 bees and a puppy.

This is a very large area with lots of potential for every kind of plant we feel like planting, and enjoying. It will be undergoing lots of changes in the next month.

CCH Lawn and Landscape was also hired to make an eight foot bench for this garden. Just simple cement blocks with timbers. This is for sitting, but will also be used as a work surface for the bee tending.

My daughter also had them create removable lattice fence panels as a bit of architecture that we can blend in with plants. They came out perfect and we can store them if we need to make changes to the garden.

The hive boxes are being painted. Another coat and we will be ready to receive the ladies. They will have a struggle to survive, but we will do all we can to keep them going and protect them. So many predators and battles for them.

We did a bit of raking to prepare the hive location. Emily helped bring in supplies and they laid weed cloth, cement squares and stones. They added a water bath over the tree stump that we cut back further and at the end of the day, a test of what it would look like was done. 

I think it's going to be beautiful. Right now there aren't any plants and the area with the pebbles will be much larger, but for this weekend we are finished. CCH Lawn and Landscape will be hired to put a stronger floor in the shed and build new doors so we can use it this coming winter. It's a bit worn right now, but still has a good roof, and some paint will bring it back to functional.

The sign warning of bees is on the gate at the side of the house and we've taken out a few locks for it, so we can decide which one is best to keep people safe. The neighbors are all on board with our bees and they hope they may have a jar of honey in the fall.

The gardens we put in last year are beginning to blossom and it's so nice to see. As of April 15th we have been in our new Town House Homestead for one year and when I look back at what we've done, I see all the miracles I am grateful for. I look forward to vegetable gardens and sharing our abundance in the near future. Thank you for stopping by and visiting. I hope to see you again soon. 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Well for sure this has been an interesting week. We've had things scheduled, but we were a bit spontaneous too. Spontaneous to the point that this little fellow is now a member of the family. We've wanted to find a dog, but most dogs, two to three years old, are always gone by the time we find them. However, this past week my daughter found a Craigslist add for him. She sent a message, and within an hour she had a response that he was still available. We made arrangements to go see him and sure enough he came home with us. 

His name is Hunter and he is just over eight weeks old. He is a lab and terrier mix and I'm sure he's going to fit that name within a couple of months. In the mean-time he, and we have a lot of learning to do.

He is my daughters dog and they have more than bonded. He's been here just shy of three days. Yes he's very cute. She named him Hunter because that will be his job. Keeping those ground hogs from digging any more dens. He already has a fix on them and I haven't seen them since he's had free run of the back yard.

Don't let this cute little guy fool you. He is very smart. He's a problem solver and a con. He's trying everything including being bad for me because she's not here. He just realized this morning that she leaves and that didn't make him happy to be stuck with the old one. Oh well. It was a very hard first two days, but her co-worker brought us a crate and without hesitation after we put his blanket in it, he put himself inside and cuddled up to sleep. Two sleepless nights left us frustrated, but last night he slept for three and a half hours before needing to go out. Small steps, but we'll get there. He's got half an acre to run on, and lots of people who have come to play with him. Even our senior neighbors have offered to babysit. They love dogs. 

My seedling are doing well. Last week I got my Italian basil and Purple basil started and they have popped their heads and are growing. I think I miss basil the most through the winter, but now I can grow it in the basement under the grow lights. I will need to find some heat source for it. I'm not sure what I'm going to start this week. I have my hands full with puppy.

So the puppy took up all of Saturday and Sunday my contractors, CCH Lawn & Landscape, came and built my compost bin. I am so happy with it. They said they have some tweaking to do, but I can use it, and as you can see I've started collecting wintered leaves and brush for it. I also have a bit saved in the freezer as far as food scraps to add, along with paper and cardboard. This has been a life time dream, believe it or not, to have a place to garden and dig in the dirt. I see Hunter and I out there for many hours during the day this summer. CCH Lawn & Landscape will be back in a couple of weeks to do more work for us too. Our little homestead is taking another major step. That's what's been going on at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a great week. See you soon.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

With the melt off of winter storm Stella came some more adventures for us. When you buy a house that has not been taken care of for a couple of decades, or more, it is to be expected that the old will die and need to be replaced. This past week it was the sump pump, but thanks to our dear friend Richard, we have a new one. My daughter learned from him some more home maintenance, and he's the kind of gentleman that doesn't mind explaining. We cannot thank him enough for all his help. Along with the sump pump issue came the issue of the foam glued to the wall, and water damage to the basement walls. 

Yesterday, with the help of Emily, she and I filled seven large bags of this Styrofoam from the walls in the last quadrant of the basement. It could wait no longer. We also filled six bags with decades old insulation, that at one time had housed some mice, and we came across some spiders and ants while pulling it down too. Oh insects. What can I say? At least it wasn't wasps.

It is looking much better and now there are literally miles of old cable wires, ancient phone wires, and who knows what other wires that need to come down. This all has to be done before we can get any new insulating done.

The walls have suffered some damage, but for now they need to dry out before we can scrape off loose cement, re face it, seal and paint, but it's work we expected to do this coming year any way. Yes we had enough intelligence to cover the sump pump to prevent anything getting into the well. 

On the more exciting side for us is the bee garden. We got a very good deal on a water bath this past weekend, and it is holding it's spot in the garage next to two new rain barrels. The tilling has been scheduled and weather permitting we will have the garden ready before the bees arrive.

The safety signs arrived this week too. the orange caution sign is metal and will go on the locked gate to the back yard. The red sign is for the garden itself. Everything is coming together well.

With every home comes the necessity for tools. We had a good start, but we still need more. This past weekend there was a yard sale around the corner from us. In the 36 degree cold, with pouring rain, we stopped to look. We got a six foot aluminum ladder, a decent wheel barrow,, a garden rake and weeder all for $15. We were feeling quite elated, especially with the wheel barrow, because it's a bit difficult hauling stones, fallen limbs and trash to the curb, even though it is just half an acre of land. Needless to say with Springs arrival we are getting better situated to handle all the chores. 

This last picture is that of two boxes of non perishable food that I am donating to a college food share. For the last five years, maybe longer, I have fed hungry students, but not in the capacity that I wanted, or even could actually. If there were hungry students in an office where my daughter works she would tell me and I would send whatever I could to help. I recall sending individual pot pies, soups, home made loafs of bread, banana bread, cookies, and bags of potatoes so they had something. The student government opened a food share that my daughter recently discovered and from now on I will make a monthly donation to them also. These two boxes contain 45 pounds of food, egg cartons for egg distribution, and Ziploc bags for them to provide smaller portions if needed. My new philosophy about stopping hunger has come through Instagram. I follow "secondhand_swagger", who started this program in February this year, to push the fact that so many charities need food supplies. So now any time, at any store, and for no reason other than to fight hunger, I will pick up two food items, plus when I do my monthly shopping I will pick up what I can and fill two boxes. I am so ready to put in a large vegetable garden so my giving can grow, but for now I'll do what I can to show how grateful I am for what I have. That's some of what's been happening here at the Town House Homestead, and I can't thank you enough for stopping by for a visit. Have a wonderful week and keep up the hard work. It does pay off.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Yes, I have it bad.  Mother Nature seems to want to be mean, although I have to remember it is only March, and the northeast is not a place for early outdoor planting. It's been a time for planning and preparation. I think winter gardening outside would be rough for me. So it's not in the plan for now.

We were snow bound for two full days, and there really wasn't much else we could do besides plan for spring, and dream about gardens and bees. Thank you winter storm Stella. Some drifts were four feet deep. I know because the vent to the gas furnace was blocked and I had to shovel my way (45 foot path) to the side of the house to dig it out so we would have heat. 

Finally at dusk on the second day of Stella, the sun made a momentary break through the clouds before setting. The plowing and the clean up took another day, and the snow is still on the ground, but not as deep. It's spring according to the calendar, but winter will take it's time as usual leaving the northeast. I'll be ready when it does.

Most of my seedlings are doing well. Some require more heat than the basement is providing, but when the breezeway is warmer I'll move them to full sun. I have twenty tomato seedlings that have come up. Five different varieties of them. I also have onions doing well. The rest are flowers for the bees. 

This is our neighborhood hawk. Last year she had two offspring. It was wonderful watching the fledglings learn the skills they needed to survive, but at the same time, if I wanted chickens in the future, they are one more threat to their survival. The same morning I photographed this hawk, the deer were walking through the yard looking for food. Hard to believe we are located 3/4 of a mile behind a very busy mall and long business strip. We have seen it all, and noted everything, so we can try and protect any gardens and the bees. This will be a challenge for sure.

Plants are taking over the inside of the house. I have found that any space will do. This is the kitchen table today. Yesterday it had more plants on it, but I potted them and gave them new homes.

I have them hanging off shelves too. Some are mending and trying to survive because they are delicate and are special needs plants.

They are on the kitchen counter and the window sills too. Any flat surface has become fair game for my plants.

This is the end table next to the sofa. The miniature daffodils will eventually go to the new garden outside, but they have given us a splash of spring, and made being inside pleasant.

The best location for my plants is this beautiful south facing picture window in the living room. If you give me a table and a bright window I will fill it with love and life. It's kept me going through the harder winter days. I can't wait to see the outdoor gardens come to life. I worked hard on them last year, after all the tilling and prepping. I know it will be a couple of years before they are well established, but a little progress and color will be better than all the overgrowth. That's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Like most weeks I never know how much I get done until I upload my pictures and actually see it. We all have our ordinary household chores to do, but for some of us who enjoy gardening, farming, and all that, "being a little more self sufficient includes", may do a few extraordinary things. This week the new cooking "thing" was sweet potatoes. I always have frozen sweet potatoes on hand, but we are trying to eat better and are including them more in our snacks and cooking. I've made chips before, but always in the oven and I was never satisfied. I received a mandolin to slice vegetables and went to work slicing them up and put them in the dehydrator this time. I liked them better and might add cinnamon to the next round. I also played with a quiche crust made from sliced sweet potatoes. This was incredibly awesome. Easier than pie crust and much more delicious. Winner, winner! 

I did a bit of sewing this week. My younger daughter asked if I could turn this vintage Snoopy curtain into a lap quilt and this is the result. Simple, warm, and cozy. She took it home yesterday. 

My eldest daughter received a vintage canister that quickly became the newest addition to her microwave cart for her studio. It just fit on the bottom shelf. It's for decoration only. I hope she feels better soon and can get back to her creations.

My seedlings are doing great. If all of them come up however, I may be in trouble. I will have to find places to put them outside where the deer can't get them and they aren't close to the bees. So many critters to deal with, but challenges are what life's all about. These are marigolds, onions, and one lonely sunflower.

This past week we had a horrible wind storm. Winds were recorded up to 83 mph and many people lost power. Most is back today thank goodness. With this heavy snow storm today, being without power would have added more stress to people's lives they weren't prepared for. Heard of a few nasty tempers flying about and was so glad we have plenty on hand. We were lucky and didn't lose power, but are ready to at least survive for a while. This was a very large piece of blowing metal coming down the road towards the house. Fortunately it blew in another direction and got caught up in the fence.

I received birthday presents yesterday. It's not until this weekend, but my daughter's both surprised me. I received a Costco cart and now I have one of my own. I will be able to use it to move things around the house easier. My knees and hip are not the best any more, so this will allow me to move things without making several trips. I wonder if the creator of these carts ever thought they'd be used to transport groceries from the garage to the kitchen via a breezeway, and would make life easier for us. This one will be inside and I want to paint it bright yellow. It was originally black and has been spray painted a couple of times, so there's plenty of work to do before I can re paint it. I also received a yellow ware bowl, a collectible Waeschersbach shamrock mug, a little man to brew my tea, two butterfly coloring books, and colored pencils. Both of my girls know me well. 

That's what's been happening around here this past week. I have lots more going on and can't wait to tell you about it. The next six weeks are going to busy getting ready for the bees, so many new pictures and tales will be coming. Thank you for stopping by and stay safe if you're experiencing bad weather. Stay warm too and I'll see you again soon. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

I wish this could be a longer post today, but the activity around here preparing for Spring, has kept me doing just the ordinary stuff. My daughter was able to return to work today, but still will need to be slow and careful so her back will continue to mend. We have a lot more work to do to prepare the hive for the soon to be here bees, and we hope that that can start this coming week. One minute at a time.

I was able to afford another light for my germination shelf and it is already up and working. I am so ready to be outside all day, but the weather has been so mixed up lately. 

Seedlings are starting to pop their little heads through the soil and they seem so happy. I love nature and it's wonders. Every morning is a new sight. These are calendula seedlings. I have a good amount of flower seeds working. Along with the calendula I have butterfly milkweed, chamomile, marigolds, and sun flowers. If these grow well they will be in the pollinating garden surrounding the newly installed hive. 

I have some container tomatoes started also. I will be using containers again this summer for some vegetables because the food garden will come as we keep growing. I also have green onions, crimson forest bunch onions (red bunch onions), and shallots also getting their groove on. These can be put in the pollinating garden this year. There's lots to be moved to this new garden from around the yard too. We will continue to be busy I think. I hope to start some peppers and other tomato varieties so that I have at least one of each so we don't get bored with tomatoes. 

To end this short post I am sharing some more green. I hung my holiday kitchen apron and pot holders up this weekend. It's reminding me that I need to get to some more sewing, and get a few more projects done. So, love life and enjoy it. Do some simple gardening and brighten your life and those around you. Be cheery. That's what's been happening at the new Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Town House Homestead Tuesday

Spring has been popping her pretty little head around here lately. Temperatures in the mid sixties for several days, then back to the mid twenties and snow overnight, only to melt the next day. The flower beds are starting to show off all the life we planted last year along with a few new surprises. Bulbs that were probably tilled to the surface and will now grow well again. We just can't wait to see how it blooms. Of course there's all the new work outside to be planned for this spring reaching the top of the agenda lately too. My daughter is recovering from a couple of herniated discs, but surgery is probably not necessary. Yay! So grateful. It's still been busy for me, and with the help of Emily we keep moving forward.

The germination shelf in the basement got it's first light attached this week. I could not believe the simplicity of this task. I'll be ready to attach a second in the near future if finances permit. This has been a life long dream for me to have a place to start my seeds and be able to garden.

This happened just yesterday. To my surprise. I had tossed this pot of flat leaf parsley in a pile of pots last fall. I harvested all that I could and didn't have time to dump it outside before cold and snow arrived. I headed out to find pots to clean for spring, and there was the pot of five parsley plants starting new growth. I re potted them and  hope they grow, so I'll be able to cross parsley off my list of seeds to start. Who knew?

Here's the parsley and a small pot of basil under the new lights. They stood up straight as if they were as excited as I was that spring is almost here. 

This is a pot of garlic started from some that had begun to grow in Emily's refrigerator. I tossed it into a pot to see what would happen, and they are starting to emerge. There are eight of the largest healthiest cloves in this pot.

Outside on the other hand, I have about 34 cloves of garlic doing their thing. I put these in the front flower beds late last fall, because the back yard garden is still in the dream state. For this year the only new garden will be the pollination garden for around the bees, and I'll put in a few small items like onions and herbs. Baby steps, but we've only been here for ten months and have accomplished so much. 

I canned clementines and oranges this month. Not without one disaster as you can see, but one pint out of twenty four isn't horrible. I've been quite fortunate not to have many jars break, and since I buy second hand it could have had a crack I didn't see. 

I'm fermenting more garlic in honey. this is a quart jar, one third full and it's bubbling away on the counter. I cook with it and just chew a sweet clove when I'm feeling a little under the weather. This has a ways to go before it's ready, but there's a few cloves left in the pantry.

This is the second bag of vegetable scraps that will be boiled into stock shortly and canned. Once it's canned I have ready made soup. Just open a quart, add a bag of mixed vegetables and some noodles and in less than twenty minutes dinner is on the table with a slice of home made bread. Yes, I manage to stay busy. That's what's been happening at the Town House Homestead. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week.