Friday, December 30, 2011

Last spider post, I swear

One of the Monster's favorite things to do when he heads outside is go straight to the greenhouse and pick up the hose and act like he's watering the tubs of beet seedlings.  So a few weeks ago I had to put a stop to that by doing this...

While I hate to spoil his fun, my reason for doing so was this...

I've known this girl was in there for a few weeks and really wanted to get a picture of her before taking her life because she's one of the bigger ones I've seen around here.  She's also the first one I've had act aggressive and defend her nest when I dropped the dime next to her and bent down to take her picture.  I'm happy to report she and another much smaller widow no longer live in the greenhouse.  One more to go before I can take the clamp off.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Planting Tulips

Last year I planted 1000 tulips in a little over two hours in November.  It was a beautiful day, my beds were nicely tilled.  I used a hoe to make shallow trenches, dropped the bulbs in and raked crumbly, loose dirt over the top of them and spread a nice thick layer of hay mulch.  It was rather pleasant.

In the spring however, nearly twenty percent of my tulips came up less than 10-12 inches tall-too short to be sold at the market as cut flowers.  A friend suggested with us being in zone 7 that it maybe didn't get cool enough for them last winter and I might try getting them pre-chilled.  My tulip supplier confirmed this theory.  By getting them pre-chilled we had to push off the planting date till the beginning of December when the ground and air would be cooler.  We knew that in doing this we were risking it being too wet to plant them easily.

The tulips arrived on December 7.  It had rained on the 5th.  But we were supposed to have a few dry days in a row....unfortunately they were 40 degree dry days-the water didn't go anywhere.  It's proceeded to rain every few days since then as we've watched the tulips sit on the floor of the barn.  The tulip bed we prepared was like a bog.  Finally, last week I decided to get them in the ground the only way we could, it was obvious we weren't getting a tractor out anytime soon.

For the first row of bulbs that I planted I dug a trench in the mud and dropped bulbs in and covered them back up.  The entire time I was plopping bulbs into the muddy standing water I swear I could hear them drowning.  So the next thirteen rows I planted I set the bulbs on top of the ground and shoveled mud from a trench next to them to cover them.

I finished this over the course of three days.  I don't know how much each shovel-full weighed, but the combination of shoveling mud while standing in mud

pretty much kicked my ass.  

I did have plenty of moral support though.

River would have been there too had I let him.  I finally had to put him up after realizing he was stealing tulip bulbs behind my back.  I merely thought he was tossing horse crap around till I caught him in the act.  

Finally though, today, they are done.  We'll see what they look like this spring.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Whatever Happened to Big Wheels

My sister and I had Big Wheels.  Which we pedaled in circles up and down my parent's driveway for hours.  I have vague recollections of a red tricycle before that but I definitely remember the Big Wheels.  And then we had bikes.  Around the time I was 10 we had a big old four wheeler that didn't go nearly as fast as the four wheeler we have now or the souped up ones I see kids riding around on these days.  But I do remember we pedaled first.

I'm wondering if the Monster will ever pedal.

I imagine we'll get him a trike...and a bike.  But will he ever want to use them when he can use this?

The tractor that is...the car went to his almost-three year old cousin.  I don't think I'd want to bike if I could drive a tractor.  But then again, back when I had a bike we lived in town.  There were places to bike to.  We live on a farm.  With places to haul stuff to in a wagon.  At some point I think this might actually be a practical gift.  The wagon will definitely haul 5-gallon buckets of vegetables...which we do often.  

There's just a part of me that hopes he learns to pedal.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Tent & Tunnel

So the third present from the evening was just as exciting this morning.

Thanks, Nana & Brampa!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas via Google+

So tonight we had a little Christmas party via Google+ with my family.  Being hundreds of miles away from my parents in Iowa and my sister and brother-in-law in Washington, we are regular skypers but recently started using Google+ thanks to my sister and her husband.  The big benefit here is video conferencing with multiple people...for free.  Tonight was the first conference call I'd used it for and it worked great!

The Monster already thinks many of his family members live inside the computer so it was nothing new to him.  It was pretty cool for us though to get to hang with everyone at once.

The biggest action of the night was getting to watch the Monster open his three presents.  The first was an Elmo since he absolutely loves Elmo on Sesame Street.  Elmo got a good response.

The second was an appropriately colored tractor from his great-grandmother in Iowa.  He could barely contain himself while III was trying to get the tractor loose from the box.

That one apparently deserved a closer look from the kinfolk.

The third present....oops.  Apparently my camera was shut off during the assembly of the third present.  Will have to wait for tomorrow for that one.  

All presents aside though, we had a good time tonight even if it was only over the internet.  It doesn't beat being there in person but it makes it a little bit easier to be so many miles apart.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spilled Beans...or Grounds Anyway

This is the kind of thing that happens when you have a 17 month old loose in your house and no cupboard doors on your shelves.

And when I say a toddler running loose I really mean standing less than two feet away from me.  While I decided to make a late night batch of cookies the Monster decided he needed a stool to stand on to help him get closer to my mixer.  The coffee can seems an obvious choice for a step stool.  Unfortunately he turned it upside down.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Mud Boots

III came home last weekend with a new pair of mud boots for the Monster.  Which was nice because I was using a rotation of three pairs of old shoes for him to try to keep from putting wet shoes directly on him.  My rotation did not solve the issue of him heading out the door straight to the nearest water to splash through.  And with all the rain we've had lately it's not hard to find standing water.

And then he moves on to his next favorite water feature...typically Tigger's swimming hole.

But Tigger wasn't along this day.  The Monster had to settle for sticking his own hand in the cold water.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Helping Da Fix a Tire

III arrived home from a weekend of duck hunting Sunday morning to a toddler who wanted all of his attention and a list of things I needed done around the farm.  Lucky him.  In his best effort to multi-task he started with letting the Monster help him plug the tire that keeps going flat on the mule.  So the Monster got his first lesson with a wrench that wasn't plastic.

Then is was time to determine where the leak was in the tire.

This not only required some soapy water but a graham cracker reinforcement.  Good thing the Monster was there to help.

Finally, the tire was fixed and simply needed to be put back on the mule.  

A job for SuperMonster?  Maybe his Da.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Big Help with Chores

We've had a round bale out for the horses for the last week and the mule's had a flat tire.  The Monster let me know last night though that it was definitely time to get back into our normal chore routine.  Tigger came along for the ride.

The biggest excitement of our afternoon was that the sun was out, although it was only 45 degrees.  Everything is such a wet, sloppy mess right now...we've got tulip bulbs needing to go in the ground but it's just too wet.  The forecast isn't looking good enough to plan on getting a tractor out any time soon so we'll give it another day or two of drying and I've resigned to the fact that I may have to dig trenches by hand to get these bulbs in the ground.  Not looking forward to least I should have plenty of help.

That's right, lots of help.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


When we first built our place six years ago it was common to see coyotes around here.  They used to love laying right behind my first chicken coop.  Gradually though we took over more of our land and started cutting hay on our front pasture and turned the field west of our home into gardens.  This pushed them further from the house into areas they didn't have to be seen by us.  Until a few nights ago it had actually been a few years since we'd  heard coyotes singing at night or spotlighted them in the field.  But we've heard them for a few nights now which always causes an uproar in the dog pen in the evening.

Two mornings ago though I was standing in the kitchen at the toaster watching one of our barn cats making his way through the first garden when a large dog appeared behind the trailer parked between the two gardens.  At least dog was my first took a second to register that  it was a coyote.  And it was in a stand-off with one of my cats...who was quite a ways from the closest treeline or fence post.  Luckily for the cat they were so close to the barn that I won that stand-off.  And luckily for that cat I didn't stop to grab my camera before running off the coyote.

So the picture I took was actually of the second coyote that ambled up the driveway on the scent of the first, trailed it to the stand-off and back across the pasture through the treeline.  By the time I actually had a camera in hand with a decent lens on it though the coyote was pretty far off.  So I apologize for the highly pixellated photo.  He was far away and blended in pretty well with all the gray around here right now. (note the green cover crop of rye and clover I obviously planted for the deer to bed down in every evening).


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Trees & Morning Reads

So my objective last night had been to put up the Christmas tree after the Monster went to bed and then when he woke up this morning it would have basically just appeared...kind of like Santa's presents.  We did actually manage to get the tree down from the attic, put the base together and the bottom layer of branches on last night before succumbing to hanging on the couch with no monster running around.  This morning then the Monster found a new bag of "treasures" in the middle of the floor (the rest of the tree branches in a nasty, dirty bag from the attic.  Nice.

The pictures are a little blurry because he was bouncing up and down and singing "d, d, d, d" while pulling the branches out.  Despite the fact that he actually has quite a few words, the letters "b" and "d" are his two very favorite things to say right now.  

And since Da was already late leaving the house this morning, he let himself be talked into reading two books before he left.  Much to the Monster's delight.

I love that this child has our love for books!