Sunday, April 26, 2009

Yard work

When you live out in the country and own a large yard, it's a necessity to own a riding lawn mower. During spring and summer months, we have to mow nearly every week unless it's extremely dry (and if it's extremely wet and we CAN'T mow, I resign our yard to being a jungle and move on). Part of having a riding lawn mower is teaching the kids to be responsible around it and learn to drive it so they can start mowing the lawn at our earliest convenience. I figure we've got another five years before that particular convenience is available, but that didn't keep Oz from putting M1 on the mower and letting him push the accelerator.

Getting started was somewhat difficult.

M2 was appropriately freaked out by the thought of her brother driving ANYTHING and climbed to higher ground immediately.
She's a wise child.

That look of intense concentration is due to the fact that he was attempting to max out the speed on the mower.

Stopping is a lot easier when it simply means taking your foot off of the gas pedal - thank heaven he didn't have to try to press a brake. That boy's adrenaline was into serious overdrive.
Then it was time for a garden check! So far, I only have one plant that's looking puny - one of my cucumber plants is looking a bit off, but the other one is doing just fine.
Here's the pictorial update:

The basil is REALLY starting to grow! M1 keeps asking me when we're going to pick some and cook with it. I told him I want to give it another week or so to make sure the roots are seriously into the ground before I pick anything off, but it's looking good!

We caged the tomato plants a couple of days ago. Didn't want to hold off much longer since they're also really growing well. I got some good advice on a gardening web site that suggested planting some of the actual tomato PLANT into the ground as well as the root system. You'd never know there's probably three inches of plant underground now! That Roma on the left side of the photo is nearly up to the first rung of the cage.

SEED! I grew these from seed!!! These are my green bean plants, and I've probably got close to 10 of them poking out of the ground now. I'm going to wait until it finishes raining tonight or tomorrow and then go thin them out. I may hang on to the ones I pull, though, lest I kill the rest. I'm still nervous about growing anything from seed. Historically, that's where my plant-murdering tendencies come out the most.

My hens and chicks. Oz's grandmother gave us this plant last fall since the container had broken. I need to repot it but wanted to see if it would make it through the winter first... and it HAS! I'll probably put it in another pot this week and find a place for it.
I'm just so excited - spring has definitely sprung!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sheep shearing and Amish living

Last fall, M2's preschool class went to a place called Shepherd's Cross for their pumpkin patch. It's a lovely place, even if the religious side of things does get a bit overwhelming (don't get me wrong - I'm not against a religious bent, but when you're trying to talk to 4-year-olds about how pumpkins grow, you don't also need a lecture on how this is similar to growing in Christ), and they had mentioned something about sheep shearing in the spring.

So a few weeks back, I visited the web site and saw that the Wooly Weekend was coming up. Originally I was supposed to be out of town this weekend and was hoping Oz would take the kids, but the plans fell through and I was able to go along.

I wasn't able to get any good shots of the actual shearing from the angle I was at, but here's a photo of the ewe getting her hoofs trimmed. She kept bleating for her lamb, which was REALLY loud.

She was a good sheep, though - two years old and very well-behaved.

Here are some of the other ewes they were going to shear today... with some of their lambs.
One of the lambs - aren't they adorable? These were Suffolk sheep. They're black when they're born but turn white with black points by fall. Some of these were so little they still had tails!

These looms were upstairs. I finally know how one works!!!

See the vertical yarn? That's the warp. You tie it on first. It threads through holes in the racks (they have special names that I can't remember, so I'm calling them racks). Then you put some more yarn on the shuttle (on the right where you can see the yarn heading away from the product) and it's called the weft. To weave, you push on a lever up at the top of the loom. This lifts one of the racks and lowers the rest. You put the shuttle underneath the raised warp, push the threads together to make the fabric tight, flip the next lever, and repeat the process till you're done!

And here I always figured it was a lot more complicated. Goes to show how my mind works. Or doesn't, depending on how you look at it.

They let the kids do some handweaving, too, which they enjoyed.

I had to take a picture of this weeeeeeee tiny little lamb.

The resident sheepdog didn't like that very much.

Random duck on the property as we went to check out the herb garden they had growing there. That was M1's favorite part. M2's favorite part were the resident barn cats. Go figure - didn't we go to see SHEEP??

I had to take a picture of the kids before we left.

After we left there, we went down to Chouteau to the Amish Cheese House. It's well worth the drive. I picked myself up an Amish cookbook (that's right... Amish), the kids picked up some candy, Oz got cheese (derh), and then... then we had to go get some sweet rolls.

I'd take a picture of them, but I don't want anyone storming my house in the morning. ;) I'll let you know how they taste.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thoroughly ducked

I have to say that before today, I was a duck virgin. Never been ducked. I really imagine most people haven't. I'm kinda special that way.

The thing is, though, that I have WONDERFUL friends. We love each other in our own very weird way, and one of the ways we show this love is to prank each other on our birthdays. We've had a lot of fun with this. My birthday last year was kind of the start of it all - I went out to dinner with these girls, and while we were in the restaurant, the car was "Peeped" with a whole string of Peeps... from my peeps. It was great. So I knew my turn was coming again, and I knew that I had to take my daughter to gymnastics this morning.

And I knew that when I got home, there would be SOMETHING.

Reeeallly wasn't expecting this.

These ducks in the pictures are really only the tip of the iceberg. Supposedly, there are precisely 105 ducks in my yard. "Yard" is also a relative term. There are some hanging in the branches of the tree... sitting by my front door... stuck on the fence out by the road (I'm sure there are many amused drivers out there today)... they're everywhere. Stuck in the handle of my screen door were two duck Pez dispensers that I will actually share with my children. And on the table on the front porch sat THIS darling:

My friend C has really outdone herself this time. Those ducks? White chocolate. The eggs? Chocolate Easter eggs. The green is coconut, the walkway is more Pez, and the lake is blue icing. I have been TOLD the cake is devil's food.

Did I mention it's raining today? My ducks are getting their feet wet, but in true duck fashion, they're mostly just letting the water roll right off of their backs. Some of them are turning into puddleducks.

I can't wait till my husband gets home. If I had to guess, his reaction will be something along the lines of, "Duck me!"

Thank you, ladies, for making me feel so loved!