How Does Your Garden Grow?

Not very well, I’m afraid.  Not very well at all.  

You could call this an excuse, but birthing a baby just before planting season didn’t help matters much.  I have a bucket full of seed packets that I fully intended to get in the ground.  It’s mid-July, and the bucket is still sitting in the utility room.  I did manage to put in some lively red begonias in one of the large planters near the entryway.  My newly transplanted hastas are barely surviving… I think they may just need water.  I’m so bad at this!  I could have taken pictures, but honestly I am embarrassed.  I will spare you the agony.

(But if you are desperate to see some of my past “handiwork” you can click here:  Greenthumbery.)

Ladybug says we have nothing.  The chickens are dead.  Our dog is dead.  And the tomatoes are on their way out.  (I am really bad at remembering to water things.)   

Homesteading is hard.  And there have been some wonderful life lessons learned here in recent months.  I hope my little lovies will remember the time we didn’t give up and eventually made it work. 

On the lighter side, we have loads of mulberries this year… more than we could ever dream to pick ourselves.  They are beautifully sweet and devilishly messy.  I made the mistake of taking the girls out picking, leaving Lovey in a white shirt.  (I never cared for that shirt much anyway…)  I think they ate at least twice as many as made it into the bucket.  Our freezer is nearly brimming with berries and we have only scratched the surface.  I have dreams of pies, cobblers, and sauces. 

Caught red-handed.

Briefly distracted to catch butterflies.

Big helper.



Our hearts are still healing.  We really miss Holly.  But they are so many great things ahead.  I am so thankful we get to call this place home.


Love & Coffee.

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And then she was gone.

I don’t want to write this.  I don’t want to think about this.  I.  Just.  Don’t.

Holly von H. is gone.  It hurts so much to type those words. 
Yesterday was easily one of the most horribly terrible days of our lives.  The day started out so well.  We were coming off a lazy 4th of July, still high on sparklers and the smell of gunpowder.

It happened in mere seconds.  Seconds, I tell you.  And life was suddenly different.  

She always had a fascination with wheels, be it a stroller, a wheel barrow or… a passing car.  *sigh*

It happened in front of the house, right by the mailbox.  I cannot begin to tell you the mass hysteria that ensued.  The lady driver was visibly upset, as well as her young son who accompanied her.  The Man was running to her and sobbing.  I ran inside to shelter my girls, but it was too late.  Cupcake was napping, while the other girls held each other tightly, hysterically looking on through the bay window.  

The Man cradled her in the road as she passed.  I held her lifeless body soon after, bathing her in tears, and telling her how sorry I was.  There are so many disturbing images from yesterday that I wish could un-see.  

This.  Hurts.  

The woman turned out to be a neighbor from down the road whom we hadn’t before met.  Her husband came soon after to offer his help in burying her.  The woman came again even later to bring flowers.  I assure you this is not the way we wanted to meet our neighbors, but I am grateful we have good people living close by.  They were so kind. 

One second she was pawing at the front door and the next she was gone.  There is much sadness in this house.  The homestead feels so empty without her.  She was our first family dog.  We waited so long for her.  I find some sort of patriotic irony in the fact that she was born on 9/11 and passed the morning after Independence Day.  

Ladybug whimpered through tears, “You told me I would have her until I was at least 16!”   Lovey said, “But God’s still alive.  He’s in my heart and my heart is not broken.”  Peanut just buried herself in the couch pillows and cried.  

And The Man is a mess.  And so am I.  I loved Holly.  And him even more so.  No one ever told me it would be this hard.  I am not even an animal lover by nature, but I love the life that God created.  And Holly was special.  And she was ours.  And I miss her.  And even coffee can’t fix that.



“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34.18 (NIV) 
Rest in peace, Sweet Holly.
 


To read more about our sweet Holly von H.:  A Boy and His Dog.

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A Boy and His Dog.

Her name is Holly von H and she’s quite possibly the sweetest Rottweiler in the history of ever.  

However…

The Man did not tell me.  Supposedly he was at the office.  On a Saturday.  And it wouldn’t take long.  (Ha!)

I called to see what the hold up was.  “Work.  Lots and lots of work.”  

Suspicion.

Hours later… (lots of hours later), The Man arrives home with a puppy.  A very large, 7 month old Rottweiler puppy.  Nevermind the fact that we had a weeks-old infant in the house at the time.  The girls were in love.  Me?  Less so.  I don’t think I have ever been (or ever will be) an animal person.  I prefer to appreciate them from a distance.  But Holly…

She was so very excited.  She peed on my rug.  She peed on my foot.  And she peed on my kitchen floor.  Twice. 

The next morning, I awoke to a sloppy, wet, UN-human kiss all over my face.  I could barely breathe beneath all crushing 70 lbs of her. I didn’t want this to ever happen again.  

I. Don’t. Do. Animals.  At least not this up close and personal.  

But The Man is crazy about her.  And she loves him, too.

3 months later.  Holly and I are becoming friends.  Even though she buried my socks in the neighboring field.  And wiped her muddy paws all over my freshly washed white comforter.  And rolled in critter poo before our evening cuddles.  

Holly von H, you are a keeper.  

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Counting chickens…

Or not.

I have been putting off writing this post for nearly a week now in the hopes that putting a little time and distance between me and “the event” would make it less true or painful.

Baloney.

I couldn’t help becoming attached.  I couldn’t help being giddy with anticipation.  I couldn’t help loving them.

Just.  Couldn’t.  Help.  It.

The chickensare no more.  And this is how it went down:

It was Tuesday morning.  The Man grabbed a few extra winks before heading to work, leaving no time for the chickensSo it was all me.  It was my first time to care for the chickens and I was halfway looking forward to it.  I had The Man on the phone to make sure I went about it correctly.  

I carefully measured the feed into the bucket and playfully chatted with The Man as I crossed the lawn to the coop.  I opened the door and found it eerily quiet.  Odd.  I asked The Man if he had moved the chickens to another building.  Confused, he rejected that notion.  I questioned, “Are you sure?”  And then I took note:  feathers.  EverywhereLoads of feathers.  And not a bit else.   I darted outside the coop.  More feathers.  And a hole.  Dug right under the other side of the door.  My heart sank.  More so for The Man than for me.  And for my girls.  10 weeks of hard work and anticipation of our first farm-fresh eggs.   

We were so close.  

Feathers.

There must have been a struggle.

The hole.


To make things worse, our dog was incessantly barking like mad in the wee hours of morning.  We shrugged it off as nothing… still relishing every bit of sleep with a new baby in the house.  Darn critter.  Or critters.  

My princess angels are devastated.  We never should have named them.  Each of the girls went out to the coop to gather a few feathers as a keepsake in a Ziploc baggie.  Peanut wrote and illustrated a book for Hamburger, her favorite.  Ladybug drew a memorial portrait of Fluffy.  Lovey has shed plenty a tear for Joseph.  

I suppose we will have another go of it once The Man has time to beef up our poultry living quarters.  I consider it a life lesson learned. 

But in the meantime… I’m oh-so-sad.  

Extra-sugar-in-my-cup-day.

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Chick-a-licious

They are here. 

We.  Have.  Chickens.  

Not that I have anything else going on around here… like a newborn baby to tend to.  However, I digress.  

Cupcake was barely 2 weeks old when The Man says, “I think we need chickens.”  He called me from the farm store, where he and the three older girls had just finished a class on caring for chickens.  I wish I could have seen my face.  In a lack-of-sleep induced delirium, I agreed.  And the next day there were 10 peeping chicks, making themselves quite at home in our foyer.  That was well over a month ago and they now reside in the lovely little coop down by the barn.  And now that they are outside, I miss them.  Just a little.

I have zero ideas on what to do with the critters.  This was his idea.  And his responsibility.  The Man and his chicks.  (People say they don’t know if he’s talking about his animals or all of the young women he has at home.)  

At present, I mostly just feed the baby.  And change the baby.  And make googly eyes at the baby.  Like all the time.  And I’m okay with that.  I mostly forget the chicks are even around anymore now that they aren’t inside.  And it’s pretty awesome that at the moment, I get a free pass to not have to care for them.  

They aren’t quite so cute anymore.  I had no idea how quickly those sweet little things would turn into… chickens, which aren’t nearly so cute.  They are all quite feathered and strangely fierce-looking.  My girls have named three of them.  Mary.  Joseph.  And Hamburger.  (Yeah, I have no idea either.)  The Man just wanted to name them Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. 

Guess I’ll just pour myself another round of coffee while I wait for those farm-fresh eggs…  tick, tock.



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9 Lives?

So along with my profound love for the changing of the season, my sweet little ones are learning to deal with the seasons of life.  (Cue Lion King soundtrack.)   

As we were feeding the sweet little kittens recently, the girls noticed our sweet Fozzy wasn’t there.  It wasn’t unusual, because as country cats those critters roam all over and come whenever they please.  Later that evening, we discovered him in the road just in front of the mailbox.  Just like a pancake.  

*sigh*  

I cried.  I’m pregnant.  So I really cried.  He was my favorite.  

When we arrived home from church later that evening we couldn’t see him in the road. Ladybug said sweetly, “Oh, heaven has already come for him.”  (Or a coyote.)  Nevertheless, bestill my heart.  I love that child.

And I miss my kitty.  

Loving on the kittens.

Boss Kitty (the gutsy, orange, and dangerously overweight cat who is Garfield incarnate) has been missing for weeks.  I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that he has tempted fate one too many times by wrangling with a combine or one of the free-spirited teenagers who speed down our road.  

In other news, I am officially declaring that I am giving up on giving up coffee.  It’s simply not working.  I love this baby and I take pregnancy pretty seriously, but this girl has got to have a little more caffeine in the tank or life will not be possible.  Or at the very least, I will be a more pleasant person to deal with on a daily basis.  One a day.  And then it’s on to decaf… ugh.  

I hope this is not a slippery slope… 

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Seasons.

I love the changing of the seasons.  I love preparing for the onslaught of the cold, biting wind.  I love filling my kitchen with the warm, toasty aromas of autumn.  I love everything about this time of year.  Almost.

It’s that daRn calendar again.  That whole hiding-from-my-calendar trick didn’t work.  (See:  Hiding It got me.  And I swear I am officially saying NO to everything else.  Everything. 

Please, don’t peek into my laundry room.  Or my kitchen.  If you happen to drop by, you will be blindfolded and hastily escorted to my lovely dining room for a steamy cup of coffee and some sort of gooey baked goodness.  Because at the moment, my dining room is the only room that is remotely presentable.  And I am still blaming my calendar.  

I find myself relishing every sacred moment of the cool autumn air that has at last made a radiant appearance.  The trees are in full color and my coffee pot is working overtime.

Perfect.

However, in addition to my suffocating schedule, I have spent the bulk of my free time weather-proofing the house.  As anyone who has ever lived in a turn-of-the-century home can vouch for, there are old windows to be cloaked in plastic, doors to be wrangled with weather stripping, holes to be perfectly patched, and on and on and on.  And the windows… are gargantuan.  Lovely and grand and so entirely huge!  Just when I think I am almost done, I remember all the rooms I forgot.  

My sweet hubby and I tackled a few of them together one evening.  He measures.  And measures.  And measures.  I eyeball.  And estimate.  And eyeball.  And estimate.  I appreciate his precision.  He appreciates my free spirit.  And we both agreed we could better express our appreciation for each other by not working together on the windows.  Moving on.

My darling husband has been just as busy keeping up with the outside of the house and teh acreage despite the dwindling daylight hours.  He’s a rock star.  

And tomorrow is field trip Friday.  One whole day to go exploring with my sweet angels, including the aforementioned hubby.  There will be brownies and coffee and hiking along the river.  (And my calendar is not invited.)

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