Keep up with the goings on around the farm!

Keep up with the goings on around the farm!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This Farm is for the Birds (except chickens...)

(except chickens...) please refer back to post titled "Not Much Farming" for a complete explanation as to why this is the case. I am not ready to revisit it yet...

However depressing our chicken story is, our songbird population is healthy and growing. It is a daily blessing. Outside our kitchen window is the coolest birdfeder I have ever seen. The couple that built the house put it in. It is a tray that spans the distance of the two windows, with a seut feeder on each end. Every morning while sipping coffee we get to watch the birds literally right infront of our noses! There is a constant stream of feathers at the window and we all enjoy it. We added two feeders in close proximity to this one and it is constantly in use. It is 8:30pm and I can still hear the steady chirping of our birds.

Not the best picture of it, but you can see the driftwood collection. We put it everywhere in the gardens and the birds just love perching on it. We actually had one at the old house that a bird found a little hole and began living in it.

Adam's grandfather recently gifted us a beautiful birdhouse. Yesterday, while Ben napped I loaded the birdhouse, cordless drill, and Simon in the wagon and headed out towards the muscadines to set the house up. Simon was thrilled to be a big helper and Ben was surprised to see it up when he awoke. The excitement of these two little boys over a birdhouse got me thinking about the environment that we are trying to create here at our farm. So, today after the boys hunted their Easter eggs (which I also took as a sign that it was time to think about birds) I took the camera out to photograph all of our little homes and feeders.

So beyond the patch of forest behind us which is home to so many birds, cardinals, tufted titmice, pine warblers, to name a few, we have an assortment of homes scattered across the farm.

This house is home to a lovely bluebird. She has three eggs in there, I spied. I tried very hard to get a picture of them but it was just too impossible to do without disturbing them. I wish I could share with you the amazing color of those teeny tiny eggs.
This nest in inside one of our large Camelias. Simon has adopted this Camelia as one of his play homes. Today, he pulled me in and we discovered two nests amidst the branches.

We got this from a client of Adam's. We haven't spied any birdies coming in and out yet.

We inherited this one in the muscadine vines. We moved it though and had to do several repairs. Ben picked the colored nails. It is a nice touch. This one reminds me of the little cabin I lived in when I met Adam, equally as ramshackle and repaired in much the same way, a nail here, maybe one there, yup I think that will hold it!

Ben painted this itty bitty house last summer in Gatlinburg Tennessee.

Some of these gourds came with us from our garden in Newnan, the vine overtook the backyard, very stinky flowers but very cool fruit. One actually began growing between the boards of the arbor and was flat on two sides, we called it the pancake gourd. It didn't make it here though, I think it cracked and rotted instead of drying out. Too bad. The white ones we discovered in the corner of the shed here shortly after we moved in. One afternoon we tied them all up into the Sycamore tree. That big white one has constant traffic in and out. There must be babies.
This one I just think is pretty. It looks so natural and I think if I were a bird it would be the best choice.
Today, the new birdhouse witnessed the boys hunting Easter eggs. Simon spied an egg to high to reach on his own and his Pop-pop gave a little needed assistance. Can you imagine the tales a birdhouse would tell if it could talk? Just think, all the different birds from year to year, babies hatching, and then the goings on of all the humans raising more humans.
Thank you Great Pop-Pop, for giving us a beautiful home for our birds and for inspiring us to contemplate our relationshiop with our feathered friends.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day

Earth Day has always been one of my favorites. I grew up outdoors, from an early age I learned the value and to value what Mother Earth provided for us. I have always taken pride in my conscious efforts to make choices that promote a sustainable lifestyle. I even gave birth on Earth Day, a sure sign that the collective conscious recognized that I really was trying to put our eco-system first!

Then, while searching for some Earth Day ideas on the web for my 20 first graders I ran across a Footprint quiz. I took it (and yes some questions were very general). By the end I learned that if everyone lived like me it would take 4 1/2 Earths to sustain our lifestyle. I made two green pledges (which I feel confident that I already do and were not factored into the quiz) which reduced my footprint to 4 Earths.

So much for the idea that I thought I was making gains in sustainable living.

I guess I just need to work harder, 4 Earths is too many, we only have 1.

On the flip side. I do know that I work hard at sustainable living and if I take up 4 Earths, how many Earths do other people use?

At the Painting House we live by this code of sustainable living, which we are preaching to our offspring.

  • lights off, off, off.

  • line dry he clothes...that is when the pollen count is down!

  • we pick furniture off the sides of the street...and find ways to use it at home.

  • most clothing purchases are from second-hand shops.

  • we avoid purchasing anything packaged (hard to hit 100% here, but efforts are made)

  • gardens are in and growing-local produce

  • wood heat

  • Ceiling fans in every room.

  • Dr. Bronners, safe for the septic, safe for humans.

  • AC at 78 during the summer.

  • old adage "if it's yellow let it mellow, brown flush it down"

  • we use magnets to wash our clothes.

  • we use the "eco" light bulbs.


  • Re-usable containers everyday.

  • our boys have been clothed almost completely in hand-me-downs.

  • Cloth diapered both boys (that is almost 4 years of diapers spared from the landfill)

  • High efficiency low water use washing machine.

  • Heavily insulated attic space.

  • Re-cycle everything we can!! And according to Ben we can even re-use shrink wrap...see endnote for a silly story about that!

  • we plant things, let's not forget that green things clean the air.

Plans for more sustainability at the farm...

  • insulate the floor.

  • raise chickens for manure and fresh eggs.

  • bigger garden and more fruit trees.

  • new windows

  • solar power

  • Sarah needs to find a human to carpool with...very hard to do...observed that people like to work on their own clock, come and go when they want.

  • continue to raise conscientious children.

Ben's 3 R's Story...

The boys and I are reading books. Ben finds a set of books wrapped in shrink wrap. "Mommy can we read these ones?" Of coure I say yes and we open them up. I ever so nicely ask Ben to throw the plastic in the trash, he looks at me and says flatly "no Mommy." I reply, "Ben, please throw it away like I asked." Again, "no Mommy", but this time he adds, "Mommy, reduce, reuse, recycle. We CAN reuse this." I am looking at the balled up shrink wrap wondering how I am going to explain that it is hard to reuse plastic wrap. Then Ben informs me that we can use it on the sail that we are planning on sewing for his driftwood pirate ship. So, I acknowledge his thoughts and instruct him to go set the balled up plastic on the sewing table. He was happy with this and we went on to read two fabulous Robert Munsch books. Ben won't be four until August but he sure is thinking like a little Earth Soldier.
This is one proud Mommy signing off, wishing her little boy Simon (Earth Soldier#2) a very happy birthday tomorrow, and pledging to make every effort to live a more sustainable life everyday.

Peace Mother Earth, may we at the Painting House Farm continue to observe, honor, and protect you.

Happy Birthday Simon!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Escape to Lake Wedowee...return to babies on the farm!

We had wonderful weather for my Spring Break, which meant zero housework got done! Instead of tackling my mile long list of things to do I sat back and did some relaxing with the kids. The first few days we spent at home, making dinosaur tails for the boys and homemade pizza, yum!

Yes, Simon got one too! He has a great growl!

Ben made a self-portrait.

Adam knew I would never sit down if we stayed home for the whole week so he bartered a trade...stonework for some time in a beautiful lake home on Lake Wedowee in Alabama (which I might add is an unbelievably pretty place). Everyday we took the boys out on the lake in the canoe, finding little nooks and crannies to search for new driftwood for the gardens and watch the boys find endless joy in tossing rocks into the water. Rama and Leo were excited to be part of the adventure and eagerly awaited the return of the canoe (Leo tried to follow us once and thank goodness he changed his mind because I really didn't want a repeat of the the time we were on the same lake, in kayaks, me 8 months pregnant with Ben, dragging a huge driftwood raft that we couldn't seem to part with, Leo tried to jump into MY kayak, which filled it with water, and made me swim to shore toting a super heavy kayak, a tired dog, and too much driftwood).

Can't get enough driftwood!

The last day was quite hot and Adam surprised all of us by running off the dock into the water. Of course the boys were eager to join him until they realized the water was really rather cold! Ben was out faster than he got in and Simon just enjoyed it. We left after that bring home too very tired boys!

Once home Ben noticed the backdrop of our farm in the spring (white spirea, dogwoods, native azaleas, and formosa azaleas) and insisted on taking pictures of all the new blooms with his brother Simon. We witnessed some exciting pollination by a bee in the azaleas and a butterfly in the lilac! We also discovered that two of our young peach trees have baby peaches! Yippee! After the peaches we decided we should check on the pear trees and they too are sporting lots of fruit, which is great because we just finished last season's pear sauce! The clematis on the swingset is blooming and we have some super tall bearded white iris that I put in last summer, in crazy hot June, not because it was smart planting time (it wasn't, nor was it smart to work a rototiller that weighs more than me in 90 plus degree weather), but because I just needed to plant a garden! Let's see, we also have columbine in bloom, blueberries, diathus, and roses! The best part for me is to witness the excitment my children have for what is happening outside! They are eager to count the seedlings as they pop up and jump up and down a the thought of picking our own fruit!

How cute are those baby pears?

And fuzzy little peaches?

Life is GOOD!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Getting the Farm on!

Spring, Spring, Spring!

Everywhere we turn there are new blooms.

Days begin outside and end outside.

We are all enjoying each other, playing outside, and checking up on all that is growing!Kale! Lettuce!
New mulch, plants from house #1, boys enjoying their Daddy!
Peach blossoms...thoughts of mouth-watering fruit in the fall!
Dogwoods, gracefully dancing in the wind like ballerinas. What is not to love about this delicate tree.
Apple blossoms, maybe this year it will actually produce! We can hope!
Figs anyone? Already showing themselves...we need favorite recipes if anyone has one!
Swing set with two trellis for peas this spring and beans when it is too hot for peas! Clematis in the center of both already blooming. Hoping this strategy will provide a little extra shade for the kiddos when we are working in the garden.
Boys, still enjoying the giant pine tree Grandpa cut down. Daddy moved it this morning out of the front yard and into his little "man" grove fire pit area. Great climbing and imagining for the boys.
What is left of the big pine tree in the front yard...Adam trying his hand at chainsaw sculpture...I have requested a giant mushroom. It is coming along. We plan a big garden bed around it. It is so much fun having acreage to indulge in garden fantasies!