Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Growing in 2016

When we purchased the property 2 years ago, there was 1/2 acre of undeveloped land--mostly growing bind weed and wax weed.  There were so many junky cottonwoods overpowering the edge of our pond. Also they had a border of old poplars, at least 40 of them, some rotten.  David spent most of the last two summers cutting down old and yucky trees and killing weeds.  This year, we were able to grow on that 1/2 acre.  David used the logs from the poplars in a few ways. 1) As firewood to keep the families he visits warm during the cold months, 2) as stadium seating around our campfire area and 3) grow boxes.

Where the poplars were, we'll build up a mound of dirt with mugo pines and trees or grasses.  This should cut out some of the traffic sound from the street adjacent to our property.

David has put in hundreds of hours and his hard work has paid off. I was so sick with pregnancy the first summer and nursing the second summer, so this third one has been the first that I have fully participated in working the land and it's been such a blessing. I love it! This first photo shows some of the baby orchard trees and the huge poplars that remain near the grass.  You can see we have lots of pumpkins growing--306 hills this year.  They should spread out in a couple of weeks to make a sea of huge green leaves (keeping those weeds from surviving).

In between the rows of pumpkin, we planted jackhammer radishes and wild flowers. Those are good for the soil and for propagation--but also another way to prevent the weeds that have called this area home for so many years.

Shot of a pumpkin seedling shown above is from 1 month ago.  The kids and I were so excited to welcome these tiny miracles into our world. Now the plants seem huge and oh so strong.  The five middle kids are so eager to help every step of the way. They all planted a bit. They weed, fertilize and rejoice in the garden.

The pumpkins are great, but my favorite part is the grow box that will become our greenhouse.  We LOVE fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and now we get them table high. David did a fabulous job making log-cabin style grow boxes.  When the rest of the poplars come down, we'll make more grow boxes.

Here we have a bed of two kinds of baby kale. We are thinning it to make our salads just as fast as we can each day. Next we have a bed of chard, onions, Romaine lettuce and some peppers.  We also have tomatoes and cucumbers on the sides to grow hanging over the edge. There are also lots of beets (we thin the greens into salads now, but there'll be plenty of roots to boil this fall/winter.  I'm the only beet fan and think that they are delicious!

Oh yeah, here are more onions and lots of bush beans.

We also have brussels sprouts (a big favorite), buttercrunch lettuce and cabbage

We have the beginnings of our wall of grapes. Currently just young grape plants and tomatoes.  Our raspberries give 2 crops, one throughout July and the other in September. (I think it's so weird that there's a "p" in raspberries)

The most important work that we're doing is growing kids. They keep us moving. They demonstrate patience and kindness to each other. It is a pleasure to interact with them. They have become great companions and friends to each other and can hardly get enough time together. They are often all in the same room and that room is rarely quiet. We feel honored to take part in their growth and development and recognize that it is a privilege and tender responsibility to rear them.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Our Property

  We already love it, but we also have big plans for changes to the yard.  It sits on 2.6 acres of property.  I'll just post a bunch of photos that Kamryn and I took today.
This is the sitting area near the kitchen/dining area.
We're gearing up to make David's yummy strawberry/rhubarb jam.  The kids go gaga for his jam.  They really could use a jar in 2 days, so when we get lots of strawberries, we make jam.
Playhouse flowers--girls LOVE them.
Daniel and Kamryn play in here a bunch.  It needs a little TLC.
Kamryn took these from the inside.  I go in occasionally, but I'm getting larger and it seems to be shrinking.

This is the spot for my future zen garden/yoga place.  Right now, David has been thinning out those junk trees.  He'll put in some nice willows instead of the dying cottonwoods.  When we moved in, there were twice as many trees right here.  Many branches were black and dying because no light could reach them.  It looks much better now and still provides shade.  That hammock is what Emerson wanted for her birthday in June.  She loves that place!

The Garden

 Three Rows of corn stalks.
 Lots of onions
 Two apple trees.  We will plant many more fruit trees in the Spring of 2015.
 Asparagus--more than we would ever need.
 Crooked neck squash
Peas and Beans
 This is an old hammock on the south side of the pond.
 These are my two girls on the north side of the deck.
 This is our entry way.  The previous owners had a formal living room on one side and an office on the other.  We use their old office as Daniel's bedroom.  Since we have absolutely no need for a formal living room, David and I put our desks in there and Kamryn's electric piano.
 The driveway is huge.  You can see only the part nearest the garage is cement.  The rest of it is gravel.
 This fall we plan to cut down many of the old poplar trees putting so much shade in this undeveloped section.  Next Spring we'll plant lots of fruit trees for an orchard.
Kamryn has learned to transpose songs from the key of C to the key of F.  I'm continually impressed with the 3 year "Let's Play Music" program she is in.  This is her third year and soon she'll be ready for violin classes.  
Her electric piano sits in our front office/unpacking room--it's still a mess.  I have been busy with my doctorate classes (and been dealing with pregnancy sickness).  I haven't finished unpacking/organizing or decorating.  David has done so much work!  I'm ready to contribute now--as my classes just ended.
 David just found this canoe on Craig's list.  He's been hunting for kayaks and canoes and finally found this beauty for $250.  We love it!
 David is pruning down this massive lilac bush near the deck.  He already cut a huge pine down that was sickly and planted way too close to the other side of the deck.  Now we have a clear view of kids playing in the playhouse from the kitchen window.
 These flowerbeds next to the house are full of strawberry plants.
 There are 3 or 4 islands like this on the property.  The previous owners took really great care of them.  I think we'll simplify a bit.
 This is pumpkin our lone hen.  She forages for bugs and worms all day and then sleeps in the coop at night.  Her friend Oreo was snatched by a black lab during the second morning at our new house.  Oreo was the hen who had been attacked twice in our last neighborhood and needed 40+ stitches ;-)
 All of the middle kids love this tree platform.  Even the teenagers have invited friends to come hangout on the tree house.
 I find the rope ladder to be stressful.  I climbed up there the other day with Kamryn and Emerson.  We were reading book 2 in the Fabelhaven series.  My heart was racing from the scary climb even fifteen minutes into our 45 minute session.  Crazy!  I think I'll try to build a different platform in another tree, but my ladder rungs will be huge and secured right on the trunk for all the pregnant women who care to join me.  I believe David plans on having a zip line start from this tree platform and take you across the pond.
We work hard to keep up with these 2 rows of raspberries.  There are so many.  It's good we have lots of gobblers here to help.

 Here's the hen house near the garden.  The wheelbarrow doesn't get much use because we have a tracker/trailer machine that carries many more branches over to the fire pit.
This huge stretch of lawn has been great as our kids have gotten involved in soccer this year.  They were all terrible at the beginning of the summer.  It's been really fun to play and coach to get them to have age appropriate dribbling, shooting and passing skills.  Oh, I can't even describe how unskilled they were in June.  It was scary.  David and I are not really big into sports and we hadn't involved our kids early enough.  David's ex-wife hasn't involved her kids in anything athletic--she did come watch 2 of her kids' games.   My ex-husband would love for our daughters to be more involved.  Emerson had been in gymnastics and probably will again soon.

Oh and we didn't take photos of the undeveloped area that will be our campground.  We'll have a fire pit and paths between pine trees.  That is where we'll make a more gradual slope in the bank of the pond.