Birthdays and good graces

Hi Everyone,

I took an unindended gardening sabbatical last week. I suddenly was inundated with corn, beans and cucumbers that had to be dealt with. I hope you had a nice week. Some of you are still suffering with horrible heat and wildfires. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Recently I added goat herder to my resume. I can assure you that 20 years ago I did not see that one coming! My Mom has been feeding the Kudzu Eradication Team since my sister and BIL brought them to the farm a couple of years ago. The goats get a little rambunctious at feeding time and kept bumping into her causing brusies and eventually the cranky one got her in the knee and caused a small fracture. Time to get Mom out of the goat pasture. I took over feeding in the mornings and my sister & BIL took over wrangling them back into their pen in the evenings. The same butt head goat (literally) tried to take me out on Saturday. I explained to him that there are people that would like to eat him for supper so if he knows what’s good for him he will keep his horns away from me. DH also made me a pointy whopping stick should Winston the goat forget our little talk.

I am happy to report that after a very long couple of months of doctoring a bad leg injury on Spark Plug The Donkey, he is almost healed up and should be able to return to his pasture and horse buddies in about a week. I’m even happier to report that SP has finally forgiven me for my part in the donkey wrangling/big shot ordeal when the vet first came to visit. He has sort of been “my donkey” since we got him and usually was happy for me to scratch his ears or brush him down. He would walk up to me in the pasture to have some visiting time. BUT NOT SINCE THE VET VISIT. I have not been allowed to touch him (when he wasn’t tied up for medical attention) at all. Finally this week it seems that he has pondered the whole episode and reached the conclusion that DH and I are not actually trying to torture him, but actually help him. Spend any time with a donkey and you will realize that they rarely make a snap decision and seriously hold a grudge. I am now back in his good graces and can resume ear scratches and butt rubs.

July is also birthday month here. DH, myself and DN all have birthdays within 10 days of each other. Our sugar levels are sky high by the 15th of July from all the pies and cakes. We finish up the last one this week then I get to go on a detox diet. Glad the fresh veggies are coming in. That’s what I need to be eating.

DH has a few extra days off for the next couple of months so hopefully we will finish the drywall in the attic, can add an air conditioner and I can start setting up my studio (I’m really being delusional because we have tons of joint compound, paint and trim to do after the drywall). At least with the walls up and an AC in I can work more up there. Right now we can only get in, at best, 3 hours before it gets too hot to work. I have a commissioned piece that I only have maybe an hour left to finish, but the heat is too much. If I can find a place downstairs to set up I will probably bring it down and finish it this week.

Well, sorry it has been another edition of Hoofs, Horns and Veg instead of Pencils, Paint and Paper. I guess if I have to put my favorite hobbies in order it would be art, garden and critters. So sometimes there is some shuffling of priorities. Because of DN’s birthday tomorrow this will have to cover last week and this week’s posts. Hopefully next week I can get back on schedule.

Have a lovely week!

Christel

Lighting bugs

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. If you are in the areas getting fried with the heat wave you have my utmost sympathy. We have been in the upper 80’s and 90’s (F) here and it is miserable enough. I have been getting out in the garden about an hour earlier to beat the heat, but still come in wringing wet with sweat. Though we are not as dry as out west we definitely needed some rain. Luckily last night we got some good storms and rain to keep the gardens and our farmers going.

Last week I did skip out on you. DN was away on a church trip and I took advantage of the time gained from not having to taxi around a teenager. DH took Tuesday off work and we just spent the day visiting some places we had been wanting to go and finally getting our anniversary dinner out. I worked on a couple of art projects and started setting up one corner of the attic to be functional. Today was cool enough to actually get up there and spend several hours working and discovering my long lost art supplies.

One evening last week we had a thunderstorm blowing in. I did something I have not done for years and years. DH and I went out on our porch and watched the storm. This was one of my favorite things as a kid. I would sit on our carport (no porch) and watch the wind and the lighting. We watched the storm well into the dark and when it had blown by we sat and watched the lighting bugs. If you have lighting bugs/fireflies where you live, have you noticed how few they are now? This was especially noticeable when I lived in town. It was one of the main reasons I quit using chemicals on my yard, flowers and garden.

I am happy to say that we have a gracious plenty of lighting bugs here. We only use organic products (except when eradicating poison ivy. Please let me know if you have a fool proof organic solution to poison ivy!) and we still have wild and wooly areas for bugs to live. It was just a wonderful thing to sit and watch the storm and the bugs. The older I get the simplier I want life to be. I am over the endless activities and social engagements. Here and there it is ok, but I spent many years running myself and kids to meetings, sports and other busy crazy stuff. I think I would have liked to have had more evenings on our front porch watching storms and bugs.

Last night was the opening of the juried art show that my piece was accepted into. It’s a nice show. Lots of variety of art. DH and DN went with me and then I was surprised to see my sister, brother-in-law and Mom show up. It was a nice opening. I’m going to try and get back to see everything a little slower. I felt a little rushed. It has been a long time since I entered a juried show. Like 20 years! They can be a little pricey and then if your work doesn’t get in you feel like you just flushed the money down the toliet. I am now set up on the site where the shows are announced. Maybe I will pick one or two a year to enter. I feel like my work has improved enough that my chances may be better.

That’s about it for this week…and last week. Hope you have a lovely week and find some slow time to enjoy something that brings back happy childhood memories.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Photo by Kevin Wong on Unsplash

Hot, hot, hot

Hi Everyone!

Yes, over the weekend we had another kid and grandkid invasion and I had to prepare food, etc. for their visit. We had two of the kids, two grandkids and one significant other. I need to start writing this on Monday instead of Thursdays in case of family visits.

I hope things are good in your world. I am trying to get this posted asap because a dear friend lost her mom last night and I need to clear my schedule to make it to the funeral.

So other than family visiting there have been a few other things going on. First, DN and I started our horseback riding lessons again. I had to stop back in January 2020 due to a medical situation. DN had to stop in March of 2020 because of Covid. She has gotten to ride our horses a few times, but I have not been on a horse for any significant amount of time in over a year. Let me tell you, at 58 years old, it is a shock to the body to bounce around on a horse again after 18 months!! The 14 year old is fine of course.

My lesson also got cut a little short because I did not prepare properly for the heat. Normally 45 minutes outside even in the summer doesn’t get to me, but I forgot to take in consideration what I did earlier in the day. That morning I was out in the garden for a hour and a half. Even though I went out early it was already hot and muggy. By the time I got done I was dripping sweat.

After a break inside in the air conditioning I headed back outside to tend to the bees. Since I was opening all three hives I donned the full bee suit. My new, fancy bee suit is vented, but that venting is three layers of mesh from head to toe to keep those stingers away from the skin. Even with the venting it’s a good 5-10 degrees warmer in the suit. Thirty minutes with the bees and I was drenched with sweat again. By now it’s almost lunch time.

I came in for lunch and worked on some chores until about 1:30 when I took DN to a local farm to see about getting her some part time work. She needs to start saving for a car. We walked around the farm in the full sun for another 45 minutes before heading to our riding lesson.

I thought I had hydrated myself enough before I saddled up and put the riding helmet on. Forty minutes into a 45 minute lesson while bouncing uncomfortably on the back of a horse (it takes some time for the back side to get used to a saddle again!) I started feeling pretty bad and started seeing black spots in my vision. NOT GOOD!. My lesson ended with the teacher (she is probably in her 70’s and handled the heat much better than I did) helping me off the horse and me head down in the dirt trying not to pass out. DN ended her lesson learning how to stand up on the saddle and sliding off the back side of the horse Roy Rogers style. I was jealous! Next week I will definitely not spend all day outside sweating out electrolytes before my riding lesson. I wonder if I have the nerve to stand up on the saddle? I will let you know if it happens.

The other thing I did was to enter a local juried art show. I don’t enter many shows, but sometimes you just gotta put yourself out there. I had to write an artist statement. Those are so hard. Probably most artists wonder why we can’t just exhibit our work and let the viewers decide what we are shooting for. Anyway, I entered two pieces and should know by the first of the week if either was accepted. I will let you know if it happens.

Entering the show inspired me to drag out the oil paint again and move back into the sunroom to hopefully get some paint on canvas. There is no AC in the sunroom. Maybe I won’t paint before my riding lesson, but try to sweat it out on other days! Gotta go for now. Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Farm, Family, Friends…and a little paint

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is good in your world. I’m slightly late, but squeezing this in finally.

This past week was the first week of summer for us. DN was officially on her first week of summer vacation because she keeps those grades high and only has excused absenses, thus no final exams to take. She did, however, have to finish the driving portion of driver’s ed. Warning for our neighbors, she gets her permit in about a month and a half.

My week has been filled mainly with gardening, yard work and exciting things like a new crown on a tooth and new glasses. I did manage to find a couple of hours to get some sketches and painting in. Nothing I’m ready to show yet, but it’s a much needed start. I pulled out the supplies and set up again in the guest bedroom. Normally as soon as I do that I can count on guests showing up. Not that I don’t want to see them, but it is sort of like Murphy’s Law. Attic work has not happened this week because of hot, dry weather. In other words, put plants in the ground and water, water, water.

Last weekend we successfully got hay in the barn. Anyone with livestock (or spoiled horses) knows just what a relief that is. I really can’t say “we”, because this year the brunt of the work fell on DH and my brother-in-law. My sister, DN and I pitched in where we could, but we got off easier than most years due to a couple of events.

DH and I had most of our potion of the hay round baled by one of my distant cousins. Much easier on older backs! My sister’s and BIL’s llamas don’t eat as much hay as our spoiled horses. I went by my cousin’s house this week to pay him and wound up spending an hour or so catching up on life with him and his wife. I have found out that catching up with family and old friends has definitely been one of the best things about being back home. It has been very hard to keep up with everyone when you have lived away for over 30 years and only got home for occasional visits to the immediate family. Now I miss seeing and catching up with friends where I lived previously. Hopefully I can start rectifing that soon. In the past couple of years I have lost family members and very dear friends in too fast a succession. When the opportunity presents itself for a visit now, I tell my little pea brain that is poking me with a To Do list to finish to just shut up. Time is short and very few chores won’t wait.

On that note, in a couple of hours we are going to the funeral for the father of two of my childhood friends. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I spent at their home or they at ours. Our parents were close friends and our moms ran a business together for several years. In my mind I have run through many, many good memories made with this family. Of course we all have so many things to do anymore, but dang, time passes so fast. Try to find some time to call someone you have lost touch with or really miss but have been “too busy” to visit. I’m very guilty of being To Do List driven but am trying hard to mend my ways.

Have a wonderful week and go visit someone special.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

There’s nothing like a two year old

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I was busy last week getting things ready for a visit from my favorite two year old. At least this time I didn’t have a baby and a puppy to chase.

This week is hay week. The week that everything goes on hold until the hay is safely in the barns. All our neighbors are on the same schedule I noticed as I drove around our end of the county today burning that precious gas. Yes, we live in one of the areas that was hit hard with the gas pipeline shut down. My brother-in-law has twice had to go to the next town and visit 4 gas stations to get enough diesel to run the tractor. Every trip is calculated. I even canceled a doctor appointment this week (just a check up) because it didn’t seem to be a good use of gas right now.

Just chillin’

Anyway, I thought I would share some of the pictures from our weekend. Even though they wear me out with that energy, I love a two year old. To see the world through their eyes again is pure joy. Everything is new and exciting. Brayden had to tell the horses good morning and night night every day. He’s still intimidated with the size of them, but enjoyed watching them come into and leave their stalls.

He helped me plant some veggies in the garden, ate wild strawberries until I was afraid he would be sick, blew dandelion seeds every day (I should have one heck of a crop of dandelions next year) and LOVES a tractor. He sat on my lap and we watched my bees go in and out of the hive, visited with the goats and the chickens and guineas. He liked chasing the guineas!

I got to take him to one of my favorite places on earth…the “creek” on our family farm. It’s a natural spring that flows over large rocks and has now officially been played in by 3 generations of our family. Four generations if you count my Dad playing there as a boy, long before he owned the land. I have yet to meet a two year old (or any kid) that can resist splashing and throwing stones in water. When he’s older we will see if he can be still long enough to look for minnows and crawdads.

You watch your kids and grandkids to see if any of your DNA is visible in their looks, mannerisms and personality. Time will tell on most things, but I discovered that my love of ice cream made the genetic cut. I mentioned getting some ice cream and the boy about lost his mind. I have always felt the same about ice cream. Ten years from now when he’s at that disgruntled middle school age, I bet I will still be able to cheer him up and see that mischevious grin when I mention ice cream.

If you have any two year olds in your life, don’t plop them down in front of a TV or computer game. Take them outside for a walk. I garantee you will see things you haven’t seen for decades and remember just how cool life in the wild is. Just sit with a two year old and watch ants working away or blow some dandelion seeds to watch them float away and see just how amazing it all is again when you see the smile and hear the squeal.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love and Grace

Christel

Babies, Puppies, Flowers and Bees

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I went MIA last week. I believe I mentioned that we would be keeping one of our grandkids over the weekend. What I did not know until Thursday (when I normally write my posts) is that their new puppy would be coming along too. Now, I can usually juggle normal chores with a baby, but a baby and a puppy is a whole different thing. Add to the list that the puppy has some health issues and requires medication and baby + puppy = full time job. So last Thursday I went into high gear to finish any major projects/chores before Friday evening.

Even with DH and DN to help out, we had our hands full because the puppy kept us up several hours Friday night. Saturday we were exhausted all day but you can’t rest much with a baby and a puppy. Luckily both got a nap or two in. The baby was easy peasy the whole weekend. She was just the normal active 9 month old cruising the furniture and crawling around. The puppy on the other hand was cruising around trying to find more things to get into than the baby. He especially seemed to like chewing on our kitchen cabinet pulls! If you have ever had a baby/toddler and/or a puppy you know that if you can’t see them or hear them then you better be finding them ASAP!

Saturday night was slightly better. DH and I were out walking puppy and our dog at 3:30 am, but we got some sleep. Sunday night there were three people and one old dog that slept like the dead after baby and puppy left. Our dog, Odie, was a trooper the whole weekend. He tolerated the baby pulling his ears and poking her fingers up his nose and the puppy not only sat down on him, but took his bed part of the time. Odie just gave me a look that said “I didn’t sign up for this!”.

This week I am in gardening mode, attic work and beekeeping. I really think the months between April – October I need to call this blog “Bees, Babies and Blooms”. That pretty much covers most of what I am doing instead of artwork. I have a list I am trying to get to, but it’s a challenge right now. Next weekend we have another grandkid coming to stay so if I’m MIA next week then you know why.

Yes, it is really this purple!

The photos are of many of the lovely blooms happening here. We have spent almost a year and a half of uncovering flower beds and shrubs and trees from layers and layers of ivy (poison and English!), honeysuckle, and wild grapevines. Under all these vines have been so many lovely plants and flowers. This Spring has been more surprising than last Spring as we have uncovered more irises, lilies and old roses. We still have more to go and I have lots of thinning to do because these plants are so excited to see daylight again that they are bursting at the seams in places.

Have a great week and I plan to be back next week, but you know…babies, blooms and bees are happening here.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

And winter returned!

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I’m late this week. I’m going to blame it on the weather. What the heck? Another late season frost similar to last year. I spent time covering up little plants, bringing potted plants inside and cutting flowers to enjoy as long as possible. I’m glad I hadn’t gotten around to packing up the hats and gloves yet. They were needed on the past few late night / early morning walks with the dog. Like 2:30 am or 4:00 am walks. I think his seizure meds are messing things up. Thanks to these walks I have also been groggy and slower than usual.

I had to bring them ALL in!

I forgot to mention that I have new bees too. My brother-in-law very kindly gave me one of the splits he made from one of his hives and also a nuc he made from a swarm I believe. I don’t have the second one here yet, but am going tomorrow to meet the queen. She will probably be moving here in about a week. So I may have spent more than the usual amount of time watching the new girls and keeping them fed with sugar water. I don’t know how things are at your house, but here, 75% of my time is spent feeding things…humans, creatures and plants. There should be a tax write off somewhere in there.

A note to our neighbors…our lawn mower is being repaired. It’s going to take 3-4 weeks to get it back. Yes, the yard will be bad. Don’t panic if you see horses loose in the yard. They might as well earn their keep and mow some grass.

Today has been rainy and cold. Perfect attic construction weather. I spent several hours painting the walls that are up and DH is still up there putting up more drywall. There are some seriously wonky corners, dips and angles. Not easy on 50+ year old backs and shoulders. Some things will have to wait until lumber prices come down. We were going to frame out the window, but one small board to make the window sill was going to be $14! It can wait. DH estimates 2 more months of work. That would be about my birthday. I would be quite happy to have a finished studio for my birthday.

Slowly but surely.

Yesterday morning I helped with a yard sale and by the time I got home the allergies were full on. I got what had to be done taken care of then decided to take some time to do a little painting while my head recovered. It has been about 3 weeks since I have worked in any drawing or painting. It may not help my allergies, but it sure helps my mental health. I am hoping this coming week to clean up the corner of the attic that is 95% done and maybe move a table and easel in where I can start working. Fingers crossed. Next weekend we have one of the grandkids so I know we will not get much accomplished while she’s here.

This week’s sketch.

Have a great week. I hope your weather is warm. Some of you have storms heading your way I think. Be safe out there and I hope to be back on Thursday.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Spring has sprung!

Hi Everyone!

Hopefully your week is as beautiful as ours. This is going to be a quick hello and some lovely photos of the blooms happening here. My son and his girlfriend are back for a short visit before he starts the firefighting academy in May. I have been trying to get my To Do list done before they got here so I could spend time catching up with them.

Most of my week has been spent doing garden related activities and looking after many, many seedling babies. We have been excited to see many of the plants we uncovered from layers and layers of honeysuckle, poison ivy and unknown other vines, now blooming their hearts out. The old apple trees bloomed much heavier after having a major pruning last year. Hopefully they will give us some apples now.

Call me a little Woo Woo, but I truly think plants, just like people, know when you are trying to help them. We have one little azalea that I was absolutely sure was dead when I discovered it under the vines. I pruned back the dead branches that I could manage and planned to have DH cut it completely down, but before he could get to it, little leaves started to pop out. It is now blooming away and will probably be full and lush next year.

There is still a ton to do, but this Spring is definitely the encouragement we needed to keep pulling up weeds, over grown flower beds, and aggressive vines (never, ever, ever plant English Ivy!!). The hummingbirds have been doing fly bys to let me know they expect food from the feeder and the butterflies are loving all the blooms.

I have no idea where all the honeybees are coming from since my colony died and I’m waiting to get my new one. Everywhere here we have honeybees. Now, we do not spray pesticides and yes we have weeds, but those weeds feed the bees. I’m hoping there are wild bees in the woods behind us. If they are thriving in the wild that means they are overcoming the mite infestation that has devastated the honeybee population. I’m very happy to see they and they are always welcome. It’s a good idea to keep your shoes on when walking in the yard though.

I gotta go make food for people and hummingbirds. Have a wonderful week.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Dad, the girls are ok.

Hi Everyone!

Did anyone do any drawing last week? Guess what. I didn’t. Yes, you can slap me on the wrist. Spring is springing and around here that means all sorts of things are ramping up all at once. Happens every year in March.

We are still working on the attic. Slowly, but surely walls are going up. I have run out of primer and need to make a paint run before Saturday. The colder, wetter days are now attic days. I have been trying to do some cleaning out and reorganizing while waiting for paint to dry.

Seed planting and garden maintence have started. Weed pulling and general outdoor cleanup has been started. Our place was pretty much neglected and overgrown for years before we bought it so we are constantly picking different areas that have to have major brush, vine and weed removal.

Top all this off with DN playing in the high school band and making the soccer team. The football season was pushed to winter/spring so she has band practice and/or soccer practice and games every evening. I am still the taxi. It is a bittersweet moment when a teen gets their driver’s license. The parent is simultaniously terrified and joyous. DN is taking driver’s ed now and will have her permit in the summer. I am one year away from freaking out at every siren sound, running to the phone when it rings and losing sleep until I hear the car pull in. That doesn’t even cover the terrifiying moments in the passenger seat while a newbie driver is at the wheel. Real aging doesn’t happen until you survive teenagers!

March is the beginning of beekeeping season too. During the winter all you can do is make sure the girls have lots of food and hope for the best. March brings happy dances when you see the girls flying again or grief when you realize a colony didn’t survive the winter. If you have several hives these emotions can happen altogether. I got to do my happy dance yesterday. I had seen my girls flying before yesterday, but March is when many hives die from starvation. It was warm enough for me to open the hive and check their food stores. We still have some cold days and nights to go and not much is blooming yet. Unless something weird and dreadful happens, my girls should be good to go for another year.

I like to sit and just watch the bees going and coming. It’s peaceful and confirmation that despite the crazy in the world things are still in God’s order. Today especially I plan to sit with the bees. Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 86. He was a life long beekeeper and when I was a girl one of my jobs was to help him with the bees. At the time I didn’t pick up much actual beekeeping knowledge other than be very careful where you pick up a frame of honey, but the smell of beeswax always sucks me right back to that time. Dad gave me my first hive of bees a few years ago and helped me get set up. I had no idea I would enjoy their company so much. Now I know why he would often go and watch the bees.

Happy Birthday Dad! The girls are ok. The bees and your human ones. I love you.

Have a great week everyone!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Featured photo was taken by yours truly when my Dad was setting up my first hive of bees for me in 2016. The second picture was taken by my sister on Dad’s 84th and last birthday in 2019.

The best laid plans

Hi Everyone,

Let’s talk planning. Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants person? I’m an uber planner married to a flyer. Every day I get up and look in my planner at my pre-planned plan and am ready to start checking those items off. Almost everyday since Christmas those plans have been thwarted, misconjoled, bumfuzzeled and thrown out the window. Between the crazy of the school schedule and the fact that my DH’s employer took the whole month of January off, nothing has gone as planned and I will soon be pushed over the planner’s edge.

Granted, we have gotten several projects done that needed to be done, but all at the expense of my daily plans. Sooooooo, I am at least two weeks behind on artwork I had planned out and listing items in my eBay and Etsy stores. The weather has had some influence on the plans as well. Yesterday I just threw out the day’s entire list because the weather was warm and sunny. We have not had many of those and I desperately needed some Vitamin D. Instead of paying the bills and photographing artwork, I pruned Mom’s apple trees, cleaned out some of my bee supplies, etc. Anything to be outside.

Today I am working through yesterday’s list because winter returned with a cold wind and we are barely above freezing. Unfortunately we did not get any of the predicted snow. Tomorrow we have one of the grands for the day so I have minimal plans made. Maybe Saturday I can get caught up.

Once again I have moved my pile of art supplies. Now that DS and Girlfriend have moved out, I have again migrated to the guest room. It’s still not optimal, but the lighting is much better. The positive side of DH being home for a month is that serious progress has been made on my attic studio. I would go take more photos but it’s freezing up there at the moment. One section is drywalled and mudded. He is at this moment building some doors to cover some storage areas. When he has that done I can actually go up and start painting walls and organizing some supplies.

That’s my update for this week. Not much artsy stuff, but our garden has a layer of fresh compost, my new bee yard is set up, our lower pasture has been bush hogged for future fencing, I have picture ledges installed in our hallway for family pictures, we have discovered a farmer we can get raw milk from, I made butter and farmer’s cheese and Mom’s apple trees are pruned. It’s been crazy, but I guess I can’t complain about my plans going awry.

Stay safe and throw out the plans occasionally.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Photo by Renáta-Adrienn on Unsplash