Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thanks For Sharing Our Journey

On June 14,2009, I started this blog. I didn't know if anyone would be interested in reading about a family they would probably never meet. All I knew,I had to write it. I had to talk about what was going on. At first,it was mostly to clear my head about the struggles with Rick's issues. I knew I was not the only military wife dealing with their loved one coming home a stranger,or with cognitive issues and all that involves. So I wrote. It was a release for me,and helped me feel better. I hoped that someone would find my little blog and maybe find comfort that they were not alone. The blog was also about our path on being more self reliant-how and way we decided to do more things for ourselves. I remember by excitement at the first comment I had on one of my posts,and when I started getting followers.

Now,a year and half later,I have folks from 35 countries who pop in and read my blog. Our little blog has had 7,065 hits. Some folks may have found it by typing in specific words and only reading one post. Some follow silently,some publicly follow me ( I encourage more public followers! I love seeing that follower number go up!) I would like to thank all of you,whether you follow me daily or read  the random post. Thank you to those in :

New Zealand
South Korea
United Kingdom
United States

Thank you for finding my blog,and for sharing our life here in New Hampshire!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lest We Forget The 1%

Yesterday I was watching Oprah,as usual. On this show was Tom Brokaw,Bob Woodward,and First Lady Michelle Obama. They were there to talk about veterans and military families.

Tom Brokaw had called Oprah to ask here when she was going to do a show about  veterans, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and their families. She replied that she had just done a show about female veterans. He asked her if she personally knew anyone who was serving or who had served. She replied that she didn't.He responded that was because only 1% of folks here in the US serve in the military,so chances are,because she didn't know any veterans,she probably didn't think a lot about it.

She realized that he was right.It wasn't in her consciousness.This is true of many Americans. It's not that they don't support the troops, but,if you don't know someone who served,the war is far away. Since we don't see much of it on TV,it falls to back burner.

When Rick was wounded back in 2005,I told folks what happened. He was in an RPG attack.People would look at me blankly,and the first question they would ask is,"What's an RPG?"

I was shocked. Now,this was when things were bad in Iraq and it was all over the news. RPGs and IED's where common lingo,I thought. Yet people didn't know what RPG stood for. ( It stands for Rocket Propelled Grenade,by the way).

The first Oprah story was about a solider who,in 2005,was in Iraq and his vehicle hit an IED. He wound up blind,and had to learn how speak and walk again. Part of his skull had been removed. The second story was about a Mom who visits her son 3-4 times a year.She brings his favorite music,and reads to him.Her son is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was killed in Ramadi in January 2005,just a few months before Rick arrived .In 2005, Ramadi was the worst place on earth. Rick still cannot talk about everything he did and saw over there.

It is going on 6 years since Rick was wounded. However,sometimes I still have a big problem watching wounded veterans,especially ones with severe brain injuries or stories about those who gave their lives. I started crying during the first segment,and when the second segment came on,I cried even harder. Especially since this particular solider was killed in Ramadi.It's a mixture of feelings. First,you feel bad for the soldier and their family.Then you put yourself in their place.If one of the three RPG's had landed closer,or if Rick had run in the wrong direction,he could've been blinded,incapacitated,or worse. Then comes the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that your loved one only has the injury that he has. It can always be much worse.

I am grateful to First Lady Obama and Dr Jill Biden for working to help military families. It seems the less we hear about the wars,the less interested people are in it. Don't get me wrong,we have had lovely people come up to Rick,shake his hand,and thank him for his service. It makes us feel good.Actions,however,speak louder than words. If you don't know someone who is serving,there are many organizations that you can contact to see how you can help an active duty member or a disabled vet.I think the First Lady has some links on her website. Some groups I am aware of are the Veterans Administration,the Wounded Warriors Project,the American Legion,or the VFW.

We cannot forget our 1%.They are bearing the burden for the remaining 99% so we can live in freedom.Bless all those who have served.Without them,we wouldn't be who we are.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

All Creatures Great And Small

Not just humans make up our home. We have a mix of animals. Some are pets,some provide us with food. May I present the fellow creatures that are part of life here at The Little Yellow Farm:
Our Narragansett turkeys. They provide us and others with food. Since this photo was taken,our flock has diminished a bit. Just today,we sold one.

This is our cat, Molly Bruce. I must explain his name. When we got him,7 years ago, he was too young to have...well...obvious parts. Zach named him Molly. Then we discovered a bit later that he was a male. So instead of changing it to Bruce,Zach called him Molly Bruce. We also call him Molly The Bruce (after watching Braveheart where they call the leader of Scotland "The Bruce"),Battlecat,and Bubbaloo.He is our outdoor cat.

This is our Chocolate Lab,Sasha.She will be 7 on St.Patrick's Day. We also call her Sasha Girl,and Pretty Girl

Our chickens and Runt,the Rooster. I always talk to them when I go to gather eggs. The cackle at me like they understand. Chickens are cool.
This is Moxie. He is the cat we found staying in our log pile. He has grown quite a bit,and enjoys eating cough drops,cookies,butter,and just about anything else he can get his furry little paws on.He loves carrying kleenex,pencils,and assorted other things around. We also call him Puss and Purr Puss.
This is my baby. Her official name is Omar. Again,Zach named her before we could tell what sex she was. So to make it sound a bit more feminine,we call her Little O. She is very laid back and likes to lay on feet at night.
Last,but certainly not least,we have Rick's baby:
This is our Bull Mastiff/Black Lab cross,Samson. Samson Sunny D Shaw,to be precise. We got him when we first moved here in Dec of 2003. We adopted him from the Straham Humane Society. He came from Maine,where his owners moved and just left him behind,tied up outside. A kind neighbor took him in and brought him to the pound. When I first saw him online,he looked mean,but when we went to the Humane Society,we went into a room with him and he went and sat right next to Zach,so we knew it was a good fit. He's a really good dog,who is getting quite old,as you can see by the white on his face. He has several names:Samsonite,Seamus,Shamoose,Moose,Lummox,and Tank.

There you are,the other than human creatures that make up our home.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January Deep Freeze

We have been in a deep freeze now for a couple of days. Last night was the coldest night we have had in 2 years. With the wind chill factor it was anywhere from -35 to -50 below zero. Today we are going to be below zero all day. When I brought Zach out to the bus stop in front of the house (which,thankfully,is just to the left of the trees in the picture)the thermometer on our screen porch read 3 degrees. We have plastic on our screen windows,so I assume if there was no plastic it would've read colder. And of course,the wind chill was not taken into consideration. Our neighbor said it was -12 at their house. Our poor bus driver,Audrey,was having a bad morning. Her bus wouldn't start,so she had to use another one. The heater in that bus wasn't working properly,and the stop sign that swings out when she is picking up kids wasn't working.Plus,she had a double run on top of it. Bless her heart.

We have heat tape on the eaves in front of the house. Last  year we had an ice dam,which damaged the ceiling in the kitchen (which we will be replacing this year).We have loooong icicles hanging off all areas of the roof,not just where the heat tape is.The sunlight shining through them is pretty.

Brother B checked on our chickens and turkeys,and all are doing fine so far. I was worried a bit about them,but so far, so good. Our furnace is giving us an issue this AM. We set the thermostat at 70 overnight,and when we got up it was 64 degrees. Our oil tank is outside,so we need to buy a kerosene mix to prevent it from congealing,but in bitter cold like this,it can still freeze up.It's also a used furnace. So it's either (1)the mix has congealed,making it too thick to use,or (2)we may need a new starter. Either way,we have our wood stove,so things are starting to warm up nicely.

The cold virus is working it's way through the house. I still have a cough,the sniffles,and feel tired. Brother B has the same thing. Now Rick is sick,with a fever,cough,stuffy nose,etc. We all have awful chest congestion.You should hear all the gacking and hacking! We have started calling each other "Lunger",after the movie "Tombstone."Thankfully Zach has not come down with it. Hopefully he won't. From what others who have had this have told me,it takes weeks to get over it.Lovely.

I have been enjoying the photos of flowers and gardens from my blogging friends in warm climates. How lovely to see such happy photos! It makes me feel warm here in our frozen little world.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Starting Seeds

Unfortunately,I didn't take photos of my seed starting set up last year. This year,I will make sure to do so. This photo was of my pumpkins.

One of the things that I forgot to mention yesterday was that once you figure out what kind of garden style you want,you need to find a place that has sunlight at least 6-8 hours a day! No sun,no veggies. Veggies like lettuce don't like heat,so we put them in an area where they do get sun,but in the afternoon they have some shade so they are not in the direct sunlight all day long.We were able to harvest lettuce up to August. Sue, my blogging friend from Living The Good Life, also pointed out one of the most important things you will need: a wheelbarrow!!!!

Like I mentioned,last year was our first year of really getting into gardening and seed starting. I had no clue,so I went on line and looked up various websites. What did I need? When do I need to start the seeds? When do they get transplanted into the garden? Should all seeds be started?I also asked My Dear Friend Michelle for advice.

A great website is .It has instructions on how to start your seeds,and has a printable chart with a list of all the seeds that should be started ( the back of the seed packets also offer information as to whether they should be started inside or not). This chart has areas for you to list when your last frost date is,how far before the frost date the seeds should be started,and how long after the frost date they can be planted outside. Don't know  your frost date? If you are like us,you have a Farmers Almanac hanging in your bathroom. If not, You Grow Girl has the website connecting you to the Farmers Almanac for frost dates. We live in  NH,so we are in Zone 5,with a frost date of  May 20.This chart also tells you how long it takes from sowing inside to planting outside it will take,so you can plan accordingly.

What do you need to start seeds? Room,for one. We started ours downstairs in the basement. Our basement is chilly,so we weren't sure it would work,but sure enough,it did. Some websites or books will tell you that you need special heaters and lights. We got almost everything we needed at WalMart:Starter trays,starter soil,cool flourescent lights,and basic light timers. I bought regular heating pads,but then realized that the ones I bought were on a self timer,so the pads shut off automatically. I found ones without the self timer at Rite Aid. Much better!! We had a card table already,but this year we are going to need more tables.

Say for example you want to plant green peppers,using our frost date of May 20.According to the chart,peppers are safe to put outside 2 weeks after the frost date,which brings us to June 3. The chart says it takes 6-14 weeks from when you start the seeds to put them outside. Based on this,I don't want to start my seeds too early,so Feb would be out of the question.You don't want the plants to be huge when you put them out. I started them on March 25.

When starting seeds,soil should be kept to around 70-75 degrees.The cover should be kept on the seed starting tray(they should come with a clear,plastic cover) The light should be on 24 hours a day until germination occurs(Though I have been told that light doesn't matter at first).Once the plants start to show,reduce the amount of light to 12-14 hours a day. I used 12 hours,but this year I am going to try 14.The light should be as low as possible until the plants sprout,and then you want to keep the lights 3"-6" above the plant as it grows,so you will have to be able to raise the lights. You will want to know how long it takes seeds to germinate so you won't have to guess if things are on track.( Green peppers,for example,take 10-12 days before they sprout). The best way to water plants is from the bottom. I poured a bit of water into the tray,and and the peat pots absorbed the water,so the roots got the water first.( I did also use a plant sprayer)

I read that once the plants start to sprout,you are suppose to take them off heat. I learned a lesson with my green peppers. Once I took them off the heat,they stalled.They didn't grow much. Once I placed the heating pad under them ,they began to grow again.I also had an issue with my Rosemary. They barely sprouted and I wound up having to buy the plants. This year I am going to try to keep the heat on them longer as well. The rest of my plants were fine once I took them off the heat.

Most plants will need to be put into another container before they are ready for the garden. I used plastic keg cups,cans,and regular potting soil. Rule of thumb ( green thumb?) is that when the plants show four sets of true leaves,it's time to transplant.

I think that's enough for today!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Planning Your Garden

Don't get me wrong,here. I am not a master gardener. I don't consider myself very knowledgeable about it.Actually,I think I am fairly ignorant about the subject! All I am doing is passing along what I,a newbie,has learned. Some of you are on the same page as I am,others are WAY WAY ahead of me. Either way,I appreciate your thoughts and comments. I learn something new every day.

One of the first things you need to decide is what kind of garden you want. Row?Raised bed? Square foot? Container? Check online,ask gardening friends,read books. Do research. What would work best for you? Last year,after a few feeble attempts at row gardening,we decided to try square foot. It was our most successful attempt to date. If square foot gardening is something you are interested in,I suggest checking out . I looked through this website to learn more about it,and I liked what I found out. This then led to the purchase of "All New Square Foot Gardening Grow More in Less Space!" by Mel Bartholomew.He gives all the specifics in this book.It's mandatory if you want to give square foot a whirl.

Another book that has been quite helpful is "Country Wisdom & Know How-Everything You Need To Know To Live Off the Land" by the editors of Storey Books. This helped me learn much about gardening and veggies and fruits.

So you know what kind of garden you want. Now you have to decide what you want to grow. Make a list of the veggies and fruits you eat on a regular basis and start from there. Once your basic list is made,you then need to decide if you want to just eat as you harvest,if you want to do some canning, sell at a Farmer's Market or roadside. My suggestion: start with eating as you harvest and maybe canning. Don't think about selling yet. My Dear Friend Michelle gave me the best advice about gardening I ever had:start small.Don't go overboard because you will be overwhelmed and get burnt out. I now impart these words of wisdom to you-START SMALL!

Aside from the regular garden,I have a kitchen garden. This was because I wanted to do some canning,and I wanted fresh herbs to do it with. When Rick and I finally had our list done,it looked like a lot of food:
Mammoth Dill
Common Thyme
Sweet Basil
Sweet Marjoram
Greet Oregano
Sugar Pie Pumpkins
Jack O'Lantern Pumpkins
Heirloom Rutgers Tomatoes
Green Peppers
Summer Squash
Romaine Lettuce
Looseleaf Lettuce
Pickling Cukes
Slicing Cukes
Bush Beans
Blueberry Bushes
Red and Black Raspberry Bushes

We also have growing from previous years grapes and lavender.

We only planted so much of each,however.We did not want a ton of food,and canning was a new experience for me. This year,we are going to double our garden,so we need to make more boxes and make more mix. Thankfully,we have quite of bit of compost,though it does need to be sifted for rocks and whatnot. This year, I am considering a dye garden. Our neighbor has alpacas,and I believe that she sells raw alpaca yarn. I would like to get into using natural plants for dying purposes.

So you know what you want to grow. Now you have to decide what variety of each you want. There is no such thing as just corn,or peas,or cukes,etc. There are several varieties of each. Some are hybrids,meaning they are cross bred,I believe.Some are heirlooms,which mean the seeds are the same as they were hundreds of years ago. Heirlooms tend to be the most preferable,though they can be more expensive. Rick and I sat down and looked over the seed website and read up on each veggie,and figured out what we wanted by whether or not it sounded appealing. Some were heirlooms. Some were not. know what kind of garden set up you want,what kind of veggies/fruits you want.Now you have to figure out how to start your seeds. I knew NOTHING about this at all last year. Next time I will tell you what I learned!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thinking About Starting A Garden? Start Planning NOW!

With a snowstorm hitting us right now,it's hard to start thinking about veggie gardens. It seems like the snow will never melt and the weather will never be warm enough. Before I started gardening,I would receive the random seed catalog in January and think that it was waaaaayyy too early to even entertain the thought of starting a garden.


Gardening takes planning,homework,and organization. You need to consider:

-What you want to plant ( word to the wise-plant only what you will eat...don't plant something that is a waste of energy and food)

-What type of garden you want (row? raised bed?) What do you need to buy to get it started in the spring and how long will it take to prepare?

-How big your garden will be ( Best advice I ever received about gardening: START SMALL! Thank you,My Dear Friend Michelle!)Don't start off big,you will get discouraged and burnt out.

-Are you going to can any of your harvest? Sell it?

-What plants need to be started inside and what dates they need to be started by

-Do you want winter veggies? We are attempting it this year,and are ready to start reading up on it. We want to build a cold frame with our old sliding doors.

-Spring and summer are very very busy.We barely had time to breathe until August,between getting the raised beds built,sifting compost,planting seeds,and seedlings.When things start growing, weeding, harvesting and canning takes time. If you are planning a summer trip,make sure you have someone to care for your garden. We couldn't get away last year until August,and then we did so because we had Brother B to help out with weeding,etc.

There is more to gardening than anyone realizes until they actually attempt it. The work is more than worth it,however,when you can feed your family food you have grown yourself.

Next post will be about seeds and seed starting. Have a great day!!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Things That Keep Returning

Well, here I am,feeling better but still fighting cold symptoms. This cold is kicking many a butt in our area. Because all I have been doing since I last posted on Saturday was the same thing,I figured I wouldn't bore you with it! Wake up,computer,putter around the house a bit,lay down,Dr Quinn. That's it.

Among some of the things that keep coming back this week :turkeys and snow. Yep.This 10 days we have had four turkey sightings:two in our yard,and two across the street. We had Tom turkeys trying to get in our turkey cage,and they tried to fight our Toms through the cage. Girl turkeys and food,what more could a male turkey want? I took this photo yesterday:

This was a flock of 14 turkeys across the street. They pecked at the ground,at what we assumed was acorns,for quite a while. Cars didn't even scare them. They then decided that they would work their way into the woods. This particular group didn't come through our yard. There were no tracks,so they must've come right from the woods. This AM,we had another flock of turkeys in the same spot,but there were only about 6 this time.  I am sure that they are part of the same flock. The first sighting was over 20 turkeys by our vehicles,but by the time we knew they were there,they had already crossed the street. Our neighbor Kelly called and told us they had been by the cars,next to the chicken coop.

The next thing that keeps coming back is this:
Snow.Today is the first day since the week began that we have a nice sunny day. In the last week we have had well over a foot of snow from the two snowstorms. This photo shows one of the heavier bands of snow we had.We had light snow again yesterday.Tomorrow we are going to get more snow-with higher amounts than previously thought. The front is moving further north,so instead of an inch or two,we are going to get 5"-10". Looks like Zach might get another snow day this week.

There is something else that has returned. Those of you in their 40's and older might remember the show "Family Affair" and Buffy's doll,Mrs.Beasley. In 1972,I received a Mrs.Beasley for Christmas. It remains one of my favorite gifts. Rick found Mrs Beasley and bought her for me as an early Valentines' Day present! He said that he remembered how much I loved Mrs Beasley and how when Christmas time rolls around I always mention her as one of my favorite gifts. I felt like a four year old all over again,and all I could say was,'Mrs.Beasley!' over and over again. Now,going on 40 years later,Mrs Beasley and I have been reunited. What a kind,thoughtful,hubby I have!!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Better

Yesterday,though I really felt like going to bed after I blogged,I stayed up for a while and did a bit of puttering. I washed a couple loads of laundry and folded one (the other is still in the dryer-I admit it!). I changed the litter box and emptied the wastebasket in the bathroom,and changed the trashbag in the kitchen while the boys were out and about. I then plopped down in my recliner and knitted for a while. At 1:00 PM I decided to go rest,and wound up in bed the rest of the day. At least I felt like I had accomplished something.

Today I am feeling a tad better,though I still have a stuffy nose,cough, have a foggy head and feel real tired. Rick has encouraged me to rest,though I really hate laying down all day long. I feel like I am wasting time ( it also does not help my lower back). I know that I should rest and let nature take its course,and it's not like I am actually wasting time by using the time to get better. There is just so much to do-we need to start planning our garden and our bathroom remodel. I am not up to these conversations right now. In fact, what I have been writing here is the most conversation I have engaged in since Thursday. Being in my own head seems to be what comes along with this cold. So I have been envisioning a beautiful garden this coming year and where each box will go,and how wonderful it will be to once again gather fresh food for the family. I anticipate many more hours of canning than we had last year. Perhaps this year we will set up a small table down by the road to sell some of our abundance! We will need to buy more blueberry and raspberry bushes. Our strawberries should be very plentiful this year,so we should have a good amount of jam. Hopefully our corn won't get beaten down by the wind like it did last year. There was nothing worth saving for us,so the chickens and turkeys were able to enjoy the small ears. As Ma Ingalls said,"There's no great loss without some small gain."

I am off to shower and try to stay in the land of humans today. I might even have a conversation that involves more than 10 words strung together! We'll see what happens. :)

Friday, January 14, 2011


Yesterday I spent ALL day in bed,with the exception of supper. I had been napping and Rick came in to see if I felt like eating. I wasn't,but since all I had to eat was ice cream and a cookie all day, I figured I should get something with nutritional value in my system. Rick had made a delicious supper of pork tenderloin,green beans and homemade Parmesan french fries. It was quite good,what I could taste of it,and I almost ate the whole thing. That was at 6:00. By 7:30 I was back in bed,and by 9:00  I was sound asleep(with some help of nite time cold medicine). I woke up at 8:00 this morning,and I really could've slept longer,but I made myself get up. Moxie,our cat,was laying beside me,so I patted him while I tried to wake up. I woke with the determination to try and stay up today,but I don't see that happening. I feel really tired,even the 1 1/2 cups of coffee (at least I drank more than yesterday,maybe that's a good sign?)have done nothing. I just took some daytime cold meds. I  now have  a stuffy nose,my head feels like lead,my ears still plugged, I am still coughing,and feel completely wiped out. I am so thankful that Rick is here to get Zach ready in the morning and off the bus. Some women do not have the luxury to get sick,because there will be no one to run the house. I am very lucky indeed.

I think today will be a repeat of yesterday-shower,back to bed, watch some Dr Quinn,and sleep.

I hope you are feeling good wherever you are!!!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Yesterday after I posted here I wound up going back to lay down in bed.  I didn't even knit.Apparently my body is being overrun by a cold or something I am fighting,and apparently not winning against. I woke up this AM with a horrible deep cough,running nose,plugged ears,light headache,scratchy throat and mild fever. Lovely. So suffice it to say that today will be another PJ day. I woke up at 9:00 AM. I couldn't even enjoy a cup of coffee.It just didn't go down well,and I usually have three cups each morning in my Wilder Homestead mug from our trip to Almanzo Wilder's boyhood home in Burke,NY. I have only drunk 3/4 of one cup,and have no interest in finishing the rest. I have taken some nighttime cold medicine,in hopes that it will knock me out and I can sleep. It's that time of the year I guess.

We got at least a foot of snow here in Middleton.It could be possibly more,but the wind drifted the snow so much that it's hard to tell if we got more. The boys are going to go back out to re-snow blow and shovel. More snow fell after they were done yesterday,and like I mentioned,the snow got blown around quite a bit. The sky now is pale blue,and the sun is shining,making the snow sparkle.It's quite pretty.There is nothing like the day after a snow storm.Everything is so fresh and pretty.

When I finally rolled out of bed,Rick was on the computer and told me not to look at the screen.In fact, he told me to go back to bed until he was done.Hmm.  When he was finally done doing what ever he was doing,I teased him by asking him if he was chatting with his girlfriend :) He is up to something,but what,I  don't know. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. He likes to surprised me with things,so one never knows what it could be.

Well, I am getting tired and  zone-like,so I guess I will end this for today,go curl back up in bed,and watch some Dr Quinn until I fall asleep.

Have a wonderful day,wherever in the world you may be!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Storm Brings Contentment

Here in NH,we are in the middle of  a good ole' Nor'easter. This particular storm is the massive combination of two fronts,which collided around Long Island. Here in the southeast part of the Lakes Region,we are suppose to get up to 14". Further south in the state we are going to get up to 18".

The wind is pretty steady and the snow is coming in bands,getting progressively worse. The snow is getting stuck to our screens,and to the windows on the French doors. At some points, you can't even see across the street. The photo above was taken over an hour ago,and the snow is coming down heavier and faster now. I can't make out the trees across the street. The wind is causing drifting,and the snow is getting deeper and deeper with each passing moment.

Today is a pajamas day. I have a bad headache,and I am not going anywhere. I showered,and I as went to dress,I thought about it and said,"Why bother today?" With my headache not much is going to get accomplished,and I will probably nap at some point. Thankfully, I made laundry soap yesterday. I am very glad I did not put it off until today.

Needless to say,Zach does not have school .  He was only going to have half a day,anyway,so if for some bizarre reason they decided to have school we weren't going to send him. They would've wound up sending him home. I was going to help him clean up his room,but with my head feeling as it does,that is not going to happen. We can tackle that this weekend.

We are heading into the worst part of the storm,where accumulation is going to be anywhere from 1"-2" an hour.The plow trucks cannot keep up with it. People are being told to stay off the roads if at all possible. The road our driveway is on,Avon Lane,is a Class 6 road,meaning it's dirt.It's considered a right of way road,and not maintained by the town. There are only 5 houses on it (our driveway is on it,but our address is the main road,since we are on the corner) and it's a dead end. Happily,we have a couple of neighbors who live on Avon Lane who have plow trucks,so they make a sweep every now and then. It doesn't matter though,as we are not going anywhere today,and my Gardener's Roundtable meeting has been cancelled for tonight.

Right now our wood stove is going,and our Little Cottage is nice and cozy. Zach is playing with his Xbox,Rick is washing dishes. He is going outside with Brother B once he is done to do some snow blowing/shoveling.Zach will be helping too.Our little Chocolate Lab,Sasha,is curled up in my recliner. Our Black Lab/Bull Mastiff cross Samson,is laying in front of the wood stove. Little O,our cat is laying contentedly on our bed. Moxie,our newest cat, is resting under Zach's bed.  The turkeys are  in their shelter,the chickens are all in their house,with the extra hay helping to keep them nice and warm. There is something about having a storm raging outside and knowing everything and everyone is safe.Let it snow! Contentment is the feeling of the day here at our Little Yellow Farm.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Organizing Weekend

I have tried for the last two days to post some pictures,but for some reason Blogger is not allowing me to do so.  Damn technology! :)

Friday and Saturday Rick and I spent our days doing some organizing. Friday he organized his closet,and picked up the things he had laying around the bedroom (some since he got back from rehab!!!) .While he was doing that,I cleaned the bathroom and organized the bathroom closet.We do not have much storage in the bathroom-the closet is it. No medicine cabinet,or over the toilet storage shelves. Just the closet (that will change when we redo the bathroom next month).I threw out outdated medicines,wiped down shelves,and refolded towels,etc. On our top shelf we keep tablecloths,napkins,place mats,curtains,sheets,etc. Second shelf down is towels,and soap. Third shelf I have an old basket that is divided into three sections:one section for first aid,second for extra toothbrushes and floss,and the third for various things like cold meds,thermometers,peroxide,etc. On this shelf is also other items like deodorant,etc. Bottom shelf has small storage bins,one for Rick,one for me,and one for our travel size items. Our scale and toilet paper also reside there.

Saturday Rick organized his gun safe,and I organized our book case. It has two glass doors,so one can see everything in it. There was not enough room for our books,so Rick had to take out his military things from the top shelf. I did get rid of a couple of books that I have no interest in. I dusted the shelves and now everything looks so neat and orderly,not like before where books where piled on top of each other. Some folks might suggest that I just go to the library,instead of buying books,therefore saving space. To be honest, I like to have a book when I want it. If I get the urge to read a book at any given time of the day,I don't  want to have to travel to the library to get it.What if it's been taken out? No thanks. I am more than happy to spend money on a book,because I am the type of person to read and re read a book many,many times,so the investment is more than worth it . Of course,some books don't quite live up to my expectations,but those are few and far between.

Zach is also in the midst of organizing.Of course,his way of organizing is to do something for a few minutes,take a break,then maybe get back to it. This Wednesday he has an early release (if he has school at all;we may be getting a snow storm) so I am going to help him out a bit.He has VCR tapes,books,and games that he is now too big for. Time for a purge!

Sunday I spent napping as I had a bad menstrual headache.So no organizing that day.

What are you in midst of organizing?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stiches Create A Connection To The Past

I believe that I have mentioned that I have been in process of learning to circular knit with four needles. I would love to be able to make mittens,socks,sweaters,etc for the family. I have a book that is very good in describing all the steps I need to do,but some of the steps as a newbie took a while to figure out. I finally know what K2TOG and SSK are,so I don't have to refer back to the book to see how to do it. I still drop stitches,and my work isn't the smoothest.I do know that all comes with time and practice,and at some point my knitting projects will look just as lovely as some of the work I have seen at craft fairs.

I am probably more surprised than anyone at how much I enjoy knitting.When I was younger,it did not appeal to me-it seemed like something old ladies did. However,our new life direction led me to learn this skill,and I am enjoying it immensely. I also have new appreciation for the time that is involved in any knitting project.

Right now I am working on my first pair of socks. I used my foot as measurement. The first sock wound up being big enough to fit Rick! Hmm. I think I know where I messed up,so I am trying the smallest measurement for my second sock.I think I measured from the wrong spot on the sock. My first sock has several dropped stitches that I attempted to work back into the work. This second sock I have started and restarted four times. I am a few rows into the upper cuff of the sock,which is a K2 P2,with each row beginning and ending after the marker.

While I was casting on stitches for the third time,I started to think about  back when women would make all the clothes for the family,from shirts down to underwear. Sewing,knitting,and crocheting require a lot of patience. As I sat there
gamely knitting and purling,I imagined that it was up to me to provide the family with warm socks,otherwise,no one would have any. I felt pressure to knit faster. How could I ever provide socks in a timely manner for my family? It takes hours for one pair. What if I had to provide entire wardrobes? Sheets? Pillowcases? How could I ever get all this done? I would fail my family miserably. They would have cold feet,be naked,and sleep on a bare mattress and pillow if they had to wait for me. Let alone the fact that I can't sew!

Of course,if I lived "back in the day",I would've learned at a very young age how to sew,knit,and crochet. It would be second nature. As the woman of the house,it would be one of my duties to make things for the family.I would be able to  provide clothes,underwear,socks,sheets,pillowcases,and  lovely lace to make things pretty. By the time I reached my ripe old age of 43,I would be able to whip out things quickly because I would be doing it so much.

Is it any wonder that when we read about this time in history that women were,for the most part,cooking,cleaning,and sewing? Cooking and cleaning didn't take up too much time (houses back then were not big,nor did folks own much,so maintenance didn't require hours and hours on a daily basis),but sewing takes a while. In the "Little House" books,after the cooking and cleaning are done,Ma is always sitting her rocker,knitting. Or she is sewing something. The girls as well. Even Mary can sew or knit after she has lost her sight.

This is another skill that while it is not lost,it's not necessary. We have stores where we can buy whatever we want,whenever we want. I think it's rather sad. I have found more insight in a pair of socks  created from my own hands than I ever had in a package from a store.

Monday, January 3, 2011

No Resolutions

This year for the first time I have decided not to have any New Year's Resolutions.Not because I don't want to set goals,but because my Resolutions always fall by the wayside by March and I am tired of setting myself up for failure.(  For the last 10 years, my main resolution has been about losing weight) All I can do is what I can do,and I refuse to beat myself up for it. Besides,what difference will a New Year bring? It's all up to me. I know a New Year brings the thought of a clean slate ahead,just waiting for me to write upon it, and I am eager to do that,but I don't want to feel under pressure to do so. It has to be because I want to do something,not because it's January 1. Besides,January 1 or  June 1, it's all the same thing,isn't it?

That's not to say I am not looking forward to the year ahead! We have started receiving seed catalogs,so this has spurned on excitement about our next garden,which we plan on doubling this year. We are going to start planning it within the next few weeks,as it won't be long before our little seeds need to be started. One thing I think we will have to wait on is goats. We love them and want them,but we have much to do this coming Spring and Summer,and I do not want to put more on our plate. We want to put a metal roof on the house and garage. We have had issues with ice dams . We need to build more square foot garden boxes and get those ready for planting. We need a new deck,and new porch stairs. Our house and garage need to be painted.We need to redo our mud room so it's weatherproof. If we didn't have that much to do,I would be more apt to say yes to goats this year.

Today begins our back to normal routine. I am taking down our Christmas decorations,but might leave our pretty tree up for a few more days. That is the sad thing about after the holidays-all that work,planning,decorating-and then it's all over. Sigh.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Louisa May Alcott:The Woman Behind Little Women By Harriet Reisen

One of my passions which I have been feeding this past year is reading about subjects and people that I want to learn more about. So far it has been more about people,ranging from Presidents to writers to journalists. I love biographies and autobiographies,especially regarding historical figures. I am not a big fiction fan;the only fiction I find myself loving is the "Outlander"series by Diana Gabaldon,and I am sure it is because of the fact that there is historical events that are mixed in with the story.

I have decided to share my thoughts on the books which I really enjoy. If you have read the book I am discussing,I would love it if you would share your thoughts on it as well. If you haven't read it,maybe what I have to say will inspire you to check it out.

Today's book is an interesting and fascinating read. It's" Louisa May Alcott:The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Riesen".

Last year I was flipping through the channels trying to find something interesting to watch while I was laying in bed,and stumbled across the PBS documentary based on this book. While I only caught the last 45 minutes,what I saw made me want to learn more about this famous author.

I don't know many girls who have not read "Little Women." I think it is a staple of every girl,that and the "Little House" series.If they haven't read the book,then most of them have seen at least one version of the movies ( I have seen four and own two).

The book is full of many details,much of which I did not know. This is not just about Louisa-it is about her whole family.Her father,Bronson Alcott,was a dreamer and very involved in the transcendental movement  in MA. His friends were Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson,who happened to live across the street from them in Concord MA.( In fact,one of Louisa's first crushes was Thoreau,whom she based  characters on in a couple of her stories). Bronson was a teacher who had his own school,but,because of some of the things he taught which were controversial,lost students,which caused the school to fold. He was also an author of several books,but they never gave him fame.He rarely ever worked,thinking he had a higher calling. He tried several ventures,the most notable trying to start a commune.Because he failed to support his family,Louisa felt obligated from an early age to earn money to help buy food,etc. The family,like the Marches in "Little Women" were very poor,but whereas the Marches were the "genteel poor",the Alcotts were just plain poor,living on little food and getting money from family and friends to survive. The book shows the dynamic between Louisa,who from a young age was very willfull and unconventional,and her family,especially her father. One can see from her various short stories and novels how she used events and people in her life in all her stories,"Little Women"being the one most closely associated. In fact,she did not want to write "Little Women,"but if memory serves me her publisher wanted a children's story. It became her best selling and most famous work.

Louisa served as an Army nurse during the Civil War,but became sick,and wound up having to go back home. It was believed that the treatment she received,which involved the intake of mercury,led to her later debilitating physical condition. She sometimes smoked hashish to give herself relief. Severe headaches,pain, and weakness sometimes caused her to retreat to her bed for weeks.( It was also believed that she suffered from depression,like her father and mother)Years after her death,doctors read her symptoms in her journals,and came to the conclusion that she may have suffered from lupus.

She was an abolitionist,like her parents.Her father formed the Preliminary Anti-Slavery Society of Boston in 1830,with such notables as William Lloyd Garrison ( who in 1831 would publish the famous abolitionist paper "The Liberator").She was a feminist as well.

I found her story very interesting and captivating. Harriet Reisen did a wonderful job in painting a mental picture of the kind of woman Lousia was. I couldn't believe how much this woman went through,and how strong her character was. I think you enjoy it immensely and be as surprised as I was at how much you will learn in this very thorough book.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Last night was a very laid back night,at least for me.We had decided a while ago to stay in this year. Our plan was to have appetizers,I would have a drink or two,and we would have some champagne at midnight ( Rick actually said he would have glass this year).

Rick and Zach started assembling his new entertainment center/TV stand. We wanted to help create more space in Zach's room,since it is rather small,so we bought him a 26"flat screen TV and a horizontal TV Stand. He had our old corner entertainment center,which stuck out a bit. This new stand has all kinds of storage space,which is behind doors,so the games,books,and movies are out of sight. Since the TV in our room was beginning to go on the fritz,we now have his old TV in our room. They began this project at 2:00 PM.

One thing I forgot to mention is that Rick has been put on Ritalin,to help with his organizational skills. Many of the issues that those with TBI have are the same as those who have ADHD. They are not acquired in the same way,but Ritalin works the frontal lobe of the brain in the same manner. He takes this at 8:00 AM and again at noon. He says he can feel it working. It does help,though he still gets confused,but he is more focused than before.  He has also been getting more accomplished and has more drive.

At any rate,the building of the TV stand hit some bumps along the way. The instructions called for building the unit upside down,but then when they turned it over,Rick and Zach realized that the instructions called for them to put the back on the wrong  way. So they had to redo it. Then the doors were put on wrong. Zach kept coming out every so often saying," I have good news,and I have bad news..." I felt so bad for Rick,but he did not want my help. They stopped at 6:00 PM for our dinner of grilled chicken quarters,rice,and green beans. They then went back to work. I told Rick to just leave it until tomorrow(which is today),but he said he had promised Zach that his TV and stand would be done and he was determined to keep his promise. So while they were in Zach's room, I sat in my recliner watching Dr Quinn and knitting.  I then lit my candles and finally figured out how to shut off the flash on my camera so I could take some only took me over a year to think about and do it!

This gives you an idea of what our house looks like on any given winter night,with the exception of the Christmas decorations,of course!

At 8:00 I made the appetizers ( frozen mozzarella sticks and pizza rolls -they were year I will make my own.I know...what do I expect from frozen,right?)
Rick was going to have unbreaded buffalo wings,but wound up not because he was concentrating on the stand. By 10:00 PM,the stand ( with the exception of a couple shelves) and the TV were done. We sat and just watched New Years Eve coverage on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. Midnight rolled around,and I did not feel like drinking champagne. I was tired and didn't want to open the bottle,so we are going to drink it today. Brother B was down at Brother Dale's house,so I would've had to drink most of it myself,and I knew that was not going to happen. We all went to bed by 12:10.

This morning we woke up at 8:00. Brother B came in and was looking out the kitchen window when all of a sudden,he said,"Quick! Look out front!" We did,and there,across the street,were 10 wild turkeys.
You can't really see too well in this photo that Zach took,but you might be able to make out a couple of birds to the left of the tree in the foreground. Apparently,according to our neighbor Kelly,they came out of the field down Avon Lane,and there were 20 of them in our driveway. They then proceeded down the front of the yard( we can see their tracks),down the pathway,and across the street to the woods. By the time we saw them,half of them had already made their way into the woods,and a few were hanging back.

Rick and Zach finished putting the doors on the stand,hooked up his game system and DVD player this AM. It took two hours.

Today our New Year dinner will consist of ham,potatoes,yams,peas,rolls,and pineapple. We will have that this evening. I haven't forgotten the champagne!!!

Happy New Year!!!!