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

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

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.

A new season

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a lovely week. As usual mine seemed to fly past me in the blink of an eye. There were three soccer matches this week and one half day of organizing and cleaning one of our three storage units. I am trying very hard to get down to two as fast as possible. More doctor appointments. For a bunch of healthy people we seem to have a ridiculous amount of check ups. Lots of computer work and the usual yard, animal and house keeping. I’m pretty over mowing yards for the year!

We officially slid into Fall this week. I can’t say it feels like it yet. The air has been slightly cooler, but that is about the only real change. I have noticed an odd phenomenon though. Normally by now the leaves are beginning to change color, but this year they seem to just be dropping off. They just turn brown and fall. I don’t know if it’s because of all the rain we have had or what. I’m not wild about Fall anyway, but at least the color change is pretty while it lasts. It’s going to be very depressing if we don’t have some color. We are surrounded by mountains and I am not seeing color on the higher elevations yet either. It all feels very odd. I spend so much time outside now that my body seems to be more tuned into rhythm of the seasons and something is off right now. 

I had hoped to bring you some links to new items in my Etsy shop, but I’m doing some major updates to it and as usual, everything is taking longer than expected. It’s time for anyone selling anything to get ready for 4th quarter holiday shopping so I’m doing my part. Maybe next week. We only have two soccer matches this coming week. 

Now that the garden is done (and unfortunately the hurricane drowned most of our baby Fall plants) D. and I have been able to decide and narrow down future plans and projects. We have simplified many of them and decided against some others altogether, like restoring the tobacco barn that sits in our front yard. We have had mixed feeling about it, but the time and money involved doesn’t seem to be worth the effort when it will only get used for storage and heaven knows we are trying our best to get rid of stuff to store. We have more pressing projects that will improve life around here but it will be sad to watch the deterioration of a piece of history. 

Along with the physical change in season I am also feeling a mental and emotional change as well. Life with Miss L. has settled into a nice groove as we watch her become more confident and mature. Last year was tremendously difficult for all of us, but especially her and the adjustments in all our lives took some big highs and lows. Now life feels more solid and smooth. 

As 2018 winds down I am also having to make the mental switch from being a parent to adding “grandparent” as a title. The reality has not completely sunk in yet. I am excited yet at the same time wondering once again how time got by me so fast.  Maybe because I am still parenting a middle schooler it seems like a strange time warp thing. 

We have other plans and projects in the works that will eventually make it here, but in the immediate future we have our annual chicken stew to plan and get ready for (this includes major yard and garden cleaning and house projects to finish), then the following week we will be traveling to Charleston for the grandbaby gender reveal party. Today I have chicken coop cleaning duty.  I know, I know. You are all jealous and wish you were me. 😉

Have a great week and enjoy the Fall!

Almost there

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have had a good week. It has been pleasantly uneventful here. Oh, other than an escaped chicken (one of our young ones) that got eaten by a hawk. It’s a full time job keeping chickens alive around here! We thought we had all the holes covered that the little ones could escape from, but two found a way out. Luckily we arrived back home in time to rescue one of them, but the hawk had already gotten the other one. It’s depressing when these things happen. 

I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. I have a pile of veggies to freeze and tomorrow is a major tomato canning day. Tonight is open house at the school and Thursday is “finish school shopping” day as well as some medical appointments. Friday is a major grocery shopping day. In other words, time is short this week.

If you read last week’s post you know I have been setting up routines and doing a now, three week long over the top, home and yard cleanup. All this has been in prep for next week when school starts back. I’m trying to lay the groundwork for a real schedule this year. A much needed scheduled. A “the housework isn’t done” guilt free schedule! 

I think my hard work has paid off.  There isn’t much left on the house other than some big remodeling projects and repairs that will happen in small increments. The yard will be getting a major overhaul this coming month for our annual family chicken stew, so I will have help with that. My goal is to finally have 20-25 hours a week to get back to my artwork and a little side job that brings in some cash flow.  I am also preparing those people that I live with to NOT find projects in my coveted time slot. In all the hours available in a week, I don’t think 25 hours is too much to ask especially considering I am a much more pleasant person to live with if you DON’T mess with my time. I will keep you updated on how this goes. 

Have a great week and stay on schedule!

Pickle Power

Hi Everyone, 

I’m going to write this as fast as I can so I can say that I finally finished a blog post this week.  It’s raining here so I have a little reprieve from cucumber picking. 

We have had a super abundance of cucumbers that I have been pickling as fast as I can. Sweet pickles, dill pickles, refrigerator pickles, bread and butter pickles. We have eaten cucumber sandwiches at least once a day for a month. I have given away cucumbers by the bag full. I am beginning to consider leaving them in my mail box for our mail lady and making anonymous cucumber drops at every church and doorstep in the surrounding area. Currently there are three bushels in my laundry room! 


Thank goodness D. ends his extra work hours this week because now the tomatoes are coming in (all 84 plants!). Pickling ends this week and tomato canning starts next week! I’m already running out of storage for all this so at some point I have to stop the canning to shuffle stuff around for more room. I’m seriously wondering if the canned food would be safe in our storage unit over the winter.

In other news, we have been spending a ridiculous amount of time securing animals. We had to get creative and tie feed bags along the perimeter of the new chickens’ run because they were so small they could get out through the fencing. We have redneck ingenuity down to a fine art around here. It’s not pretty, but it’s cheap and effective. Hopefully it won’t be there too long. 


Big Bad Bob kept escaping from the pasture and taking our donkey and the trainee horse with him. We couldn’t find where they were getting out so we spent the past weekend, including our Sunday, walking the fence line, moving fence post and running more wire. Well, D. did most of it.  We also made the hard decision (though not nearly as hard as before all the escapes) to sell Bob. He was seriously upping his mischief level lately and we were worried about the safety of the other horses and well as mine and Miss L.’s. He’s a big ‘ole horse and sometimes was not patient about waiting for us to open his stall door.  I was envisioning myself as a greasy spot after Bob plowed over me on his way to catch up with his buddies. We miss his handsome goofy self, but he is with a co-worker of D.’s who also trains horses and is in good hands. 


No real artwork happening at all. The kitchen table (aka my studio) is currently covered with dehydrators. Oh yeah, we are making cucumber chips too and my herbs are coming in as well, so I’m drying them.  I have a sweater on the knitting needles but it’s a pretty boring pattern. I did start some embroidery/textile art because I HAD to do somethings creative. I get cranky when I don’t have somethings artsy to do. This is small and easily tucked away but also easy for me to pick up and put down in my spare few minutes. 


The only other thing I want to mention this week is for those of you who read this crazy blog to keep up with Miss L.  She has been with us for over a year now and is doing very well. She is in pre-teen mode and if you have survived that stage yourself or that of your kids, you know that it’s, uh, challenging at times.  I have decided that it is time to limit what I put out on social media about her life now.  She will soon be of age to decide how much she wants to share on her own and it’s not my place to tell about her life.  If we do something as a family she will be mentioned, but otherwise I will be keeping her life private. If you are a member of the community that helped look after her, you are welcome to message me for an update. I just feel it’s best to protect her privacy. 

Next week my daughter and son-in-law will be in for a visit. I seriously doubt I will be able to work in a post. Bear with me. I should be back on schedule once school starts!

Go eat a pickle and have a great week!

High summer insanity

Hi Everyone, 

Yes, I am two weeks behind here. Yes, I have tried several times to get a post written but my time has been limited. Very limited! Week before last I took the week off while Miss L. was away on a mission trip with our church so I could get a good start painting my kitchen and some other very involved stuff. Things do not happen here in grand and glorious sweeps. Our accomplishments come in tiny bits and pieces squeezed out of odd moments of time. Last week, well, the high summer season kicked in and Mother Nature rules.

I am going to give you bullet points and photos because I just don’t have the time at the moment for long thoughtful writing. Hopefully I can squeeze some in between now and September, but don’t be surprised if there are more posts like this over the next month. My apologies. Life happens.

  • Spark Plug got to go free from his 5 week confinement on Saturday. He’s happy for his freedom. I’m happy not to be hauling hay and water twice a day to the round pen.  ​
  • The 25 cucumber plants are producing PROFUSELY!
  • The pickle making is currently at least a part time job for me at the moment. 
  • Miss L. is taking a pottery class this week. It was supposed to be at a facility 15 minutes from our house. It got moved to a location 30 minutes from our house. Two hours a day of driving. 
  • I am dealing with some life aggravations that include disputing a medical bill. I suspect that alone will take several hours this week with phone calls and letters, plus a couple other time intensive problems to solve. 
  • We added 3 chickens to the flock yesterday.  We thought they would be teenage pullets. Instead, they are pre-teen pullets and much smaller than our new chicken run set up. They are so small they can get through the run wire. On one side are the grown hens who are not above pecking one of their own kind to death. On the other side is the pasture and the domain of the infamous chicken killing raccoon. And on the third and forth side awaits Sweetie Pie the Cat, who realized the new girls are the perfect snacking size. We have now rigged a containment center within the run, but it’s in the testing stage (and as they grow has the potential for escape) so I have to regularly go out to do a security check. Keeping chickens alive around here is a full time job!  
  • The tomato plants are heavy with little green tomatoes and growing faster than I can tied them up. Brace yourself for for a plethora of tomato pics and complaints in the very near future.
  • The yard needs mowing, the herbs need picking and drying and do I really need to mention laundry, cleaning and cooking?
  • I started some artwork two weeks ago and it just sits and taunts me right now. 

This is life in Crazyville at the moment. I’m just doing it like Nike tells us to do. Hopefully you will hear from me next week, but if you don’t, be assured I am buried under a pile of cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Go somewhere and have a relaxing vacation for me please. Have a great week!