Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ol' McDonald Had a Farm

Lately we've been busy with all things farm-related. There's, of course, our little front-yard mini-farm. We grew some peas (just enough for M. to snack on them every day for about a week). He'd put his rubber boots on, get a little white bucket, pick some peas and then sit on the stoop shelling and eating them.

We still have lots of lettuce and been having big salads practically every day. Good stuff! And today we picked our first cucumber! Tomatoes are on the way (there are some green ones), but even before them we'll start getting some zucchinis and crooknecks. Oh, and even though it's still a month or so before the 4th of July, our heirloom corn is much taller than knee-high.

You'd think that with so much going on we'd have enough farming activities at home. Nothing of the sorts. We take every opportunity to go where the farm and farm animals and farm equipment are.

Like to the Gotta Be NC Agricultural Festival last weekend. It's like a mini-state fair and, if you're just not that much into rides and fair food (deep-fried everything), then it's even better 'cause it's a lot less crowded and free to get in.
We looked at all sorts of tractors, from modern to really anique ones. I've never seen steam-powered tractors before and there were 3 of them this time. And we also looked at the textiles exhibit. M was absolutely taken with the spinning wheel. It didn't hurt that there were a couple of boys, 8-10 years old, doing a great job spinning yarn. Maybe next year M's going to be old enough to try his hand, or rather his foot, at it.

There was, of course, a petting zoo. Again, it's free to get in, but who can resist buying small packets of carrot snacks to feed to all the adorable little animals! We certainly can't. Just like we can't resist a soft-serve ice cream even though it's so not the best. But really, who eats Ben&Jerry's at a fair, I ask you.

Finally, we're big fans of pick-your-own farms. A few weeks ago I took Mr M. to a strawberry farm for some season-opening berry picking. We quickly got a big bucket of yummy strawberries (plus M. ate quite a few). Now, that must've been just about 3 weeks ago. And now the strawberry season is over. This is officially the last picking weekend for many strawberry farms in our area. So we went again, this time all of us, and picked some more strawberries.

But you know how they say when one door closes, another one opens? Well, what d'ya know, the blueberry season has started! Luckily, our favorite pick-your-own strawberry farm, Smith's Nursery in the nearby Benson, offers pick-your-own blueberries AND blackberries. So after filling 2 buckets with the season's last strawberries, we went to get the other berries.

What do we do with all those berries, you might ask? Well, last time I made some old-fashioned strawberry jam. This time I pureed some strawberries with pineapple chunks and a bit of sugar and put them in the freezer. And I'm trying out this recipe for blueberry vinegar. And there are just bags of berries in our freezer. I'm telling you, all this berry-picking has awakened my inner squirrel.

Lots of Fun on Weekends

We're riding a bus now. First, Mr. M and I took the bus to downtown Raleigh for Artsplosure festival when Chris was working (and had a car). The bus ride was great, the Artsplosure was even better:

First we had some hotdogs because we ran into a hotdog lady on the bus (she usually sells hotdogs by the Natural History Museum and that's how we know her).

Then M. made a star out of clay and stamped some designs on it. Actually, looking at some of the pictures, the clay might have been first and the hotdog - next.

And after the hotdog was all finished, M. tried doing some crafts - he painted and tried making a bracelet. And then we went to the Kids Museum.

But the best part was that after a ride back, M. fell asleep on the walk back (ok, he was in a stroller) and stayed asleep even after I transferred him from a stroller to a couch and he slept for 2.5 hours! Hooray!

Oh, and the day before M. and I went to see some chickens on a Henside the Beltline Tour de Coup. It's always fun to see and feed some backyard chickens and to take a look at other people's backyards.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


We're very busy (as usual). Check it out - we're building a playground for M. in the backyard. Chris took apart the bottom part of our gigantic deck. The wood was mostly rotten, but he did save what could be saved for a future chicken coup. Yes, one day we will have chickens!

We cleared the area where the playground is going to be and then we all rolled the tree stumps and set them around the perimeter. Tomorrow morning Chris will go and pick up a sandbox I found on Craigslist for only $25. And then it'll be time to figure out where to get playground mulch and sand.

Lately I've become addicted to Craigslist. Most of what's on it is useless to us, but once in a while things pop up, like this sandbox (hopefully it's in good condition). Plus there's the Free section that is generally full of junk, but you know what they say about junk, right? Like today I picked up a FREE set of Encyclopedia Britannica (library copy and you know, nobody ever reads Britannica). Oh, and it included a complete set of Britannica Junior (also in perfect condition) and a bunch of Britannica Yearbooks.
I'm not sure what to do with yearbooks, except to give them as gifts to friends and family. So if you need a Britannica Yearbook for your birth year, let me know. I just might have it.

Oh, and we also went to Henside the Beltline Tour de Coup aka the Chicken Tour. There are quite a few backyard chickens in Raleigh, including many houses in our neighborhood. We toured some, looked at some chickens and coups and backyards. It was lots of fun and we're once again thinking about keeping a few chickens.

So, as you can see, we've been very busy and intend on staying this way.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Back Online

Finally, my Toshiba is back online. Its original AC adapter gave up the ghost almost 2 months ago and I just got around to ordering a replacement. Well, ok, it's more complicated than that, but I don't want to bore you with the details. The main point is that once again we are a two-laptop family!

So, I'm trying to catch up on a lot of things, all while watching the Victory Day celebration live from Moscow thanks to RT On Air. I'm planning on staying up for the Victory Day Parade, but it's still more than an hour away (it'll start at 10am Moscow time which is 2am EST) and I'm not sure I'll stay awake that long.

Anyway, as promised, here are the highlights:
It's strawberry season here in the Piedmont! So last weekend our good friends - Kelli and her 2 little boys - went to pick strawberries with us. Or rather we went with them since Kelli drove us all in her new mini-van.
The kids picked strawberries, ate a bunch too, petted the goats, played on the playground and generally had a great time. Did I mention, there was a big red tractor there too?!
While we were busy enjoying the berries, Chris was hard at work demolishing the lower part of our deck. That's where we're going to build a cool little playground for M. That's one of our new 3 projects.
We, and this time it was all 3 of us, went to the grand opening of a new Art Museum. The museum is, as far as I understand, is pretty striking, with lots of very cutting-edge features and excellent collection of art (I'm not even pretending I understand much about art, but I did pick up a museum brochure and read it).
Of course, that was the day M. chose to stay in PJs all day. Well, what can you do with these 3 year olds, right! At least he changed out of his rubber boots that he wears around the garden.

And speaking of the garden, we started seeing some produce coming in. First - radishes (spicy, but not woody or bitter), lettuce (very tender) and that's about it for now. We planted lots of tomatoes, some cukes and squash and sweet peppers and also various herbs.
Tomatoes are doing very well. Some are supposed to get up to 9ft tall! Wow, we figured we better build some kind of support for them. And then we started building (it was the other one of our new 3 projects). Ok, by "we" in this one I mean Chris. He planned the whole thing and built it in 3 evenings. And let me tell you, it's probably the prettiest tomato support I've ever seen! My hubby has so many unexpected talents! I also planted some vining flowers and beans between tomato plants.
M. came down with a cold. Even though it only lasted a couple of days (not counting some lingering cough), he gave us quite a fright. As our pediatrician explained, there are fewer summer colds than winter ones, but the ones that are around are much more severe. Well, leave it up to M. to get aquainted with every little cold virus that happens to float his way! Hopefully this is the last one for a while though 'cause him being sick every 3 weeks is getting ridiculous.

And that's all, folks!