Friday, July 18, 2014

The tallest corn in the *world*

My county fair is happening this week and there is a contest for the tallest corn stalk. If this corn weren't part of my Three Sisters garden and supporting pole beans with roots intertwined with pumpkins, I would totally enter it. It is an heirloom, multi-colored dent which will hopefully be tortillas one day.

I am 5'8" and the corn is way above my head.

It is even above my outstretched arm. It may actually be a hazard to air craft.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In the event that gardening is possible this year...

So? It's like snowing right now? And sticking? I'm trying not to be upset by this, but I would like to remind you we live in Indiana, and not Central New York.

A few weeks ago as we were enjoying a fire in the wood stove after many days of not having any wood (because we ran out, for the third time), just before we had our propane tank filled for the second time this year, Bill suggested we really, really enjoy the fire because we would be missing it come July when it was still cold and there was no wood left in the world. And then we started talking about Ice Ages and how the last one may have popped into being in just six months, rather than over the course of years. Comforting.

In the event that we actually do have a summer again in our lifetime, I have started some seeds: tomato, pepper, eggplant and herbs. I'm using a soil blocker that we purchased for about $30 from Johnny's Seeds. It was easy to use, is a one-time purchase and there is nothing to throw away. It did take a little more time than filling peat pots, but not much. It was also dirtier, but I consider that a plus.

I used Pro-Mix potting soil, which I purchased at a home improvement store. I mixed the soil with a lot of water (much more than the "recipe" that came with the soil blocker suggested), until it was like peanut butter. Then, I made a big mud pie and pressed the soil blocker down over it until I could see water - dirt water! - seeping through the top of the blocker. I then moved to the tray and pushed on the handle allowing the blocks to gently drop out. Ta da!

The blocks have held up well so far. I mostly water by misting with a spray bottle, but also by pouring water on top. I've even had to transfer some blocks from one tray to another and they did fine. There was a little bit of crumbling, but nothing tragic.

The lights are a broad spectrum LED, which the plants seem to enjoy.

We bought very few seeds this year. All of our tomatoes and peppers are from seeds that were either left over from last year or seeds that we saved ourselves from plants we grew. Some of the seeds are now on their third generation, meaning we bought the seeds in 2012, grew the plants and saved the seeds, grew plants from those saved seeds in 2013 and saved new seed from them in the fall and have planted them for use this year. So far, the seeds I've saved have grown the fastest and biggest. It's my own version of natural selection - the stuff that grows well in our soil under my management practices gets saved and will hopefully continue to get better. I LOVE IT!

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I have many posts in my head for you about bathrooms and spring and knitting. But, until they are actually written, here are some teasers.

The lilac leaves are new as of today. The sheep and goats are glad to be eating the grass that's just started growing in earnest as well.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Two walls

It's time for your Daily Tiling Update!


It's time for me to get a beer.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tiling off the leash

Bill asked that I not start tiling the bathroom until he was able to work on it too because he wanted to be in on the fun. But after a day of that, he realized what he really wants is to be in is a working shower and the whole process would go quicker if I tiled while he was at work.

Being left alone with a bunch of tiles and blank walls is leading to some unconventional tiling. I can't abide straight lines and perfect spacing. Ick! It makes me feel restricted and bound and boring. This, makes me feel more organic and grounded...

I'm nearly done with the back wall (there is a heart stone that was added after this picture was taken), and just started on the one to the left. When I'm not mixing thinset or freezing at the wet-saw, I'm dreaming up new ways to use the remaining tiles. It's just like quilting but with rocks, ya know?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bathroom tile warm-up

Bill had to go back to work today, so I've been sending him pictures of the bathroom to keep him excited for an evening of tiling tonight. TILE! TILE! Perhaps you'd like to see some photos too?

I was in charge of removing all the linoleum on the floor. Grrr. But done:

I also sanded some plaster which made my hair white. This photo was meant to tease Bill with how beautiful I'm looking today with the dusk mask, ear thingies (we just call them "ears" as in "do you have your ears on?"...but they must have a real name?), and dust that I can't shower off.

Our floor tiles are Travertine 6 x 18 subway tiles which will be offset by 1/3 because it looks balanced and will result in the least amount of cutting. Coopworth approves. (Actually, he just wants lunch.)

I cut some waterproof floor stuff. Note the holes for the toilet and water pipes. That's some fancy utility knife action there, my friends.

The shower walls are porcelain. I would have loved real stone for the shower, but the Bathroom Remodel Fairy didn't leave enough of a budget under our pillows. The shower is 2 2/3 tiles wide, so I think we're going to offset the rows like this:

We also have a wee accent stripe of white stone that will go somewhere. The tile man sold us "pencil" tiles (rounded sticky-out things) to put on the top and bottom of the accent to frame it and camouflage any difference in width between the accent and the porcelain. I'm not loving them and hopeful we can do something more artistic instead. They seem very serious and proper to me and that makes me sad and rebellious.

To balance out the straightness of the serious square shower tiles, we got Travertine cobblestones for the shower floor. They feel more earthy and natural - and therefore more happy-making - to me. I have the main bits laid out and there are lots of free-standing stones to fill in the gaps. We'll be sticking them down tonight!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Remember when this blog was about home improvement?


We had a septic issue earlier this week (clogged vent pipe + tree roots in the drain pipe to the septic, which led to shower water bubbling up in our bathroom sink), which let us discover the floor under our toilet has been rotting due to something about a wax seal.

So, since we had to rip up the floor under the toilet anyway, we decided to go all in and redo the entire bathroom.

Monday and Tuesday were for dealing with the septic issue. Wednesday and Thursday were for demolition (I. Hate. Linoleum. Forever.). Today we're starting to reconstruct.

(Check out the 4 layers of wallpaper that were behind our shower!)

In an ideal world, we wanted to get a shower base and just tile the walls...but we live in a house where (as Bill keeps pointing out) the bathrooms are "retrofitted." They weren't here when the house was built, so they are eeeked in. This resulted in our shower drain being off center in the shower base and not really moveable without mucking about with 150 year old floor joists. As a result, we'll be building a shower base with Michigan Mud and something the Tile Shop calls "goof-proofs" to help us get the slope to the drain just right. We got some kickin' cobble-stone like tiles for the base that I'm pretty excited about.

Today we're prepping for tiling. We're hoping to get the bottom layer of the shower base as well as the bathroom floor ready for tiling next week. There is a bit of drywalling we have to do and Bill's working on the cement board for the shower walls right now.

When we pulled out the horrid fiberglass shower form, we were hoping to find treasure in the wall. We always hope for treasure. The walls have never delivered. Dumb walls. We just got a piece of a pipe and a half-ton of walnuts. Dumb squirrels in the dumb walls.

We did make our own little treasure for the next folks that tear down a wall. Bill and I wrote a letter about us, the house, and the world in 2014 and I put it in a Ball Jar with a bit of the linoleum floor I've been tearing up, some wallpaper, and coins. I also included a zip drive with some photos and videos of the house and farm and a copy of some of the posts from this blog. I have no idea if anyone will find it or if they'll be able to do anything with it when they do, but it seems fun.

Back to work! More to come as we (hopefully) make lots of progress.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

White Groundhog Day

We woke up to 7 unexpected inches of snow. This is especially weird because before this winter, I don't think we've had much more than 7 total inches of snow any winter that we've lived here.

Here's our propane tank, which is thankfully holding propane. We had it filled just before the first blast of cold and before propane tripled in price.

And here's some snow. It is oddly sideways everywhere. There is 4 inches of snow sticking off the side of every tree branch and sturdy weed around. How does that happen?

Proof of deepness:

My fingers are delighted that gloves are not necessary today with the temperature being an entire 25F on the plus side, rather than 25F on the negative.

'Til next time...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ha doggie is covered in snow

She thinks I am a terrible blogger and promises to force me to write real posts soon.