Monthly Archives: April 2012

Spring Scenes

This Spring has been unnaturally warm, and followed an unnaturally warm Winter.

A few days ago I went out on one of the most beautiful days of the year and started snapping photos.

Here is what I found:

 

Ethan takes forever to get the eggs, but that’s his chore every evening. I think he’s a pretty lucky kid, getting to collect eggs like that. The fact he has chickens makes him pretty popular at school. He even found a love letter in his backpack.

back yardbouncing up the steps with eggs

Our hoop house is doing so well that my bolting spinach (on the right in this photograph) spurred some neighbors or other overly zealous goody two-shoes to call the local narcotics hotline on me. Needless to say, I spent an entertaining Wednesday afternoon convincing several of the local officers that I in fact was not in possession of any bubbling meth labs. On the upside, I got to give the lovely lady and gentlemen a tour of my greenhouse and seedling room.

April garden, complete with bolted spinach

As of today, I have retrieved approximately 1.5 quarts of strawberries from our garden. Indeed, they are of the Earliglow variety, but this is early even for them:

April strawberries

Even the blackberries look more June than May, with red berries coming along nicely.

I'm gonna be a berry somneday

The sage is in full bloom:

sage

And the chickens are basking in the warmth:

the flock

But other than being able to feed myself, I am very proud of our perennial bed. Last year I sort of gave up on annuals, figuring I’d rather spend lots of money once than spend lots of money every year. We planted this perennial bed and the hydrangeas, both of which have enjoyed a glorious spring. While much of the perennial bed is beginning to drop its blooms, the hydrangeas are just beginning.

bleeding heartshostas and stuffhydrangeasperennial bedpretty pretty

We’re just so fortunate. Happy Spring, everybody!

Biking the Katy, with Capital Letters Supporting the Important Stuff.

Last weekend our family decided to have a Good Day.

Good Days, by the way, are the kind that you remember in large part because there is an absence of bickering. And an absence of bickering is an unusual treat.

Ethan recently became the proud owner of a Very Expensive Bike. This came about in large part because he’s run through several cheap bikes and he really desperately wanted gears.

We knew he could handle gears.

Department store bike manufacturers, however, don’t know this and they don’t really plan for it. Ethan needs a smallish bike, being smallish in stature himself.

There was nothing for it but to go to a Real Bike Shop.

Real Bike Shops, for the uninitiated,  are bike shops which carry Very Expensive Bikes.

But they have smallish bikes with gears, and we have a boy who rode without training wheels at 3, so there you have it.

new bike

Naturally, we had to go and test this new machine, so off we went to a trail where we rode about 5 miles and then did this:

ice cream

That was all well good and fine, but it didn’t manage to test the bike over the long haul. So on Sunday of last weekend we loaded up and drove an hour to the Katy Trail, whereupon we traveled 11 miles to the Augusta Brewery.

Ethan

Well, I should say 3/4 of us traveled 11 miles. One of us traveled closer to 18 miles. That’s Greg, who traveled all the way back to the truck to get the bike lock I had forgotten (and didn’t really think was necessary but was too afraid to really mention it because sure enough if I did, the bikes would all have gotten stolen).

While he was gone, the rest of us took it slow, stopped often to marvel at the scenery, and generally putzed around waiting for him.

Her phone didn't work there, don't remember why she's holding it

We arrived at the brewery, hungry and thirsty, placed our order, and had a mediocre meal with some pretty good beer (and root beer for those under 21).

too cool

even too cooler

There was no arguing or bickering; the weather was perfect; the ride was fun. Every once in a while we have a day like this when everyone just gets along and enjoys being a family.

I imagine Greg’s tired of listening to me go on and on about how fun that day was, but…

…it really was.

Really Fun.

Still Loves His Mama.

For some months, Ethan was presenting me with note after carefully-penned note that said, “I love you Mom.”

I wanted to keep every single one of them, but he must have given me 50 over the course of three months, and, well, as much as it broke my heart to do it, I had to pick and choose which ones to keep and which ones to let go.

Then for a period there was a drought. No notes.

It made me a little sad.

I wondered if that part of his life were over, if he’d suddenly decided (as I worried in this post) that it was no longer cool to express love for his mom.

But lo, my spirits were soon lifted when he proudly presented me with this:

love balloon

It seems he just moved into another medium. No more the simply scrawled “I love you mom” notes where the letters may or may not be drawn in the same line as they should be.

No, he has moved straight into artistry and voice bubbles drawn on balloons.

If I think about it too much, I’ll probably miss the misshapen letters and wrapped-around words of his notes from before, the ones scratched onto triple-lined paper from school or the back of a bill or in the midst of a picture of a submarine, but I’m happy.

He still loves his mama.

One Egg, Two Egg, Big Egg, Little Egg.

I don’t know what these chickens are trying to pull.

A couple of weeks ago we gathered a giant blue egg from the coop.

Now, back when the girls first started to lay we would often get double-yolked eggs as their reproductive systems got going full throttle, but that hadn’t happened in some time. We put the egg away and forgot about it for several days, until I determined an egg sandwich would make the perfect lunch.

Oh, how I wish – looking back – that I’d taken a photo of the egg before cracking it, but this will just have to do:

big yolk

That yolk is nearly 1.75” across.

big yolk measurement

That’s a big friggin’ yolk. I have to wonder what kind of hulking chicken we’d have ended up with if Clyde were still around and this pup were fertilized.

Shortly thereafter, we collected a tiny egg from the coop. This egg, in fact, is the smallest egg we have ever collected from the girls. Here is a photo of it next to a regular-sized egg, for comparison:

little egg

We haven’t popped that one open yet – I’m interested to know just what’s going on inside.

So as I said, I don’t know what these chickens are trying to pull, but I think this one is probably the ringleader, seeing as how she doesn’t like to follow fencing rules:

culprit

More Strawberries? Yes, Please!

Last year we planted 25 strawberry plants and dutifully picked the blossoms off and trained the runners. About 20 of those plants made it through the winter. I probably would have had more success if the dog didn’t view them as his personal outhouse or if they were in a better location. As it is, they’re planted in some pretty awful clay soil, so it’s a wonder I had 80% success. They’re chock full of blooms and baby strawberries, so I’m expecting a decent crop.

And I dearly love strawberries.

So when Greg told me that his coworker had some extra plants and was offering them to us, I was all about it.

Of course, we really didn’t have the space for a few more (36) plants, so that led to us spending our Sunday thusly:

new strawberry bed

strawberry bed 2

In fact, this bed is bigger than what we really need for those plants, but it was the size most convenient to build, and I am certain I will find something to go there – probably tomatoes.

Yum!

It was really hot today for this time of year – 89 degrees – and we are definitely not acclimated to the weather. After making a trip to St. Louis Composting for the garden mix, and assuring the fellow behind the counter that yes, yes, we were indeed aware of the payload capacity of our truck and that yes, we could haul it, we were on our way.

But DANG, it was hot.

I think I drank more water today than I ever do in a normal day, even if I work out for an hour. Greg shoveled all of it out of the truck and I spread it through the beds. It was definitely hard work, so tonight we’ve rewarded ourselves handsomely with Mexican food and margaritas.

Folks, this is the good life.