Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's A Dog Day--

Photos: Alex With Trainer Terry Cook & Titan

Today we focused on getting our German Shepard Titan trained. We hired a great company called
sit means sit to come to our house and train him. Terry Cook is the owner and just happens to be our trainer for Titan. So far I am totally impressed and happy that we choose this type of training for Titan. If your interested and in Ohio; within 60mins of Lancaster, give him a call and mention Titan to get 10 bucks off the cost of whatever program you choose. They do a great job of working with you to fit your financial needs and have lots of options for training your dogs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chewys Spuds--

As the season has come to an end I am excited thinking about next year and saddened about the fading of this year. I am sad because my new venture decimated most of my garden; the chicken and ducks. I'm a novice caretaker of these birds and on much advice was told that if your veggies are "Big Enough" the chickens and ducks can't hurt them.....well I beg to differ considering I had lovely cucumbers, cantaloupes, tomatoes, squash of so many different variety etc...and they all went to the BIRDS!! lol...ah well, live and learn. Needless to say I had high hopes for the crops that the birds couldn't get their beaks on and boy was I excited when I dug up these beautiful Sweet Potatoes!!!! I shared the scraps with the chickens and ducks but my husband loves Sweet Potatoes, so the giant ones were all his :) It's a nice ending to my garden adventures for the year. I like the idea of planting many different cold tolerant vegetables so that you have a steady variety , extending your harvest late into the fall.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chewy's Day in the Sun----

My Days in the sun has been vast and plentiful.....letting myself go from the crazy daily routine and trying to take a moment and just appreciate. Sometimes life can get so crazy that I truly miss the joy between the everyday mundane tasks and the overload the world willingly provides.

So if I want to kick off my shoes and swing barefoot with the baby..........or sport my mud boots and wade through chicken,duck and turkey poo......maybe sink deep in the dirt on these really hot summer days only to return unburnt, dirt faced and thirsty but still dreaming of next years garden.....I won't feel guilty about it!!!

I have come to believe or realize rather.....that everyone especially children need to plant their hands in the dirt, reel up a large mouth bass, play mother to a bunch of adorable ducklings, taste a sun warmed tomato right off the vine, dust the dirt off a carrot and eat it right there, fill the chickens feeders with ice cold water from the hose; while giggling because they filled their boots too.........accidentally crack a duck egg because they are so excited that they found one and can't wait to show you, read a book languidly around the lake.......I can close my eyes and sigh realizing in these moments I am completely, utterly content. Our Minds (Hubby,Myself, Children) are rested, refreshed, reset; ready to conquer a new day and all it's woes with a little less seriousness and a little more silliness. I can't remember who said "Life is a Journey, not a destination." It's not about getting there or how fast you do! It's about enjoying the journey and all it's bumps and bruises ...learning along the way and making your happiness now! not when everything seems perfect!

Isn't Chewy wise and full of Wisdom? .....well she's full of something alright! and it's kinda creepy that I am talking about myself in third person...I have always hated people who do that! and use excessive !!!!!!!!!!!! I'm just gonna stop while I'm all content like :) Found my Chi so to speak:)

Check out the photos I took with my new camera. My daughter took the pic of the mini-rex rabbit, her baby. Isn't it fantastic?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chickens & Ducks and Turkey's Oh My....!!!!!!!!

I'd like to say I took a moment.....some time away from blogging just to enjoy the summer. I'd like to say that but I can't! My summer thus far has been very hectic. I'm not sure how I ever worked a full time job and was a full time Mommy too.

I've added to my own stress with a bunch of chickens and a few turkey's which hopefully my husband continues to think are just really tall chickens.

I'm a city girl at heart who has to learn to be a country girl. We lived out in the country once before and I hated we find ourselves out in the country again, in a fairly new state is beyond me. But alas here we are. I have always complained to my husband that it's boring! that was before I started to garden and fell in love with it. I came to the conclusion that country life isn't boring if you have something to occupy your time and MIND!!

Well....One day I saw that my neighbor was erecting a really nice shed...what I thought was a shed until I heard noises. That is when I learned she had purchased a few Cochrin chickens and a few ducks and was building a chicken coop. Oh! how cute were the ducks!!!! so cute that not long after my kids fell in love with them we ended up purchasing two ducks too (see older post). Well at the the time I didn't really take to the chickens. They didn't really appeal to me at all...............................................................

A few months later and Wham! I have chickens (all different varieties) plus the neighbor's chickens and ducks visit everyday. I started out only going to order a few chicks from and for some reason I became amazed and order happy because of all the different varieties of chickens. Who'd have thought there were so many? I ended up purchasing Plymouth rocks, heavy feather legged pullets, Silkie bantams, Wyndottes, Buff orfington's, speckled sussex to name a few......and the ducks, well they had just as many varieties; crested swiss, Penkin's, black runner ducks, fawn crested and on and on......

All was great until I got them all here and realized that I was going to have to come up with some housing and quick. Sure they can live in an old child's swimming pool with straw placed on the bottom and a heat lamp hanging from the garage ceiling...but they grow, and fast!!!!

needless to say that between all the kids day sport camps, fundraising, car-pooling, College campus day's and dentist, doc and general "run me to the mall or I'll die" trips for the kids........I've let the garden slack a wee bit and have been running around myself like a chicken with it's head cut off trying to get recycled or free housing and learn to build are a few pics.......

Sadly...being the chicken novice that I am we lost 13 chicks and 2 turkey's from either a skunk, cat, coyote neighbor's lost 5 chicks the next night and shot a skunk so................This was a month or so ago. I took a trip to Tractor Supply Company and while getting chick feed this guy came strolling down the Aisle and happened to ask if I had ducks.........cause he lost 6 of his to coyotes and was telling me to make sure I had at least a six foot fence. we talked I asked if he had any experience with chickens and "Oh, sure........" was his response. Well in the course of us conversing he ensured me that if I had a heat lamp on them even out in the open, and a fence around them nothing would get them. Hrmp!! well Tractor supply Man was Wrong! maybe that's why he had a cocky little smirk on his face as he sauntered off.....hmmm........

PS: Don't look like a city slicker when you go to Tractor Supply Company--that's sac religious!!

Here are a few pics of the temporary shelter's I have built, salvaged and found on the side of the road for free (converted Green rabbit hutch into a chicken coop for the silkie Bantam's as they will not grow very tall. The ramp is built with left over wood from my son's "tree house" and an old hose I cut to make the treads. The A-frame I built using three wooden pallets and left over roof paper and shingles again from my son's tree house project. I covered the floor with chicken wire and then put straw onto for warmth and comfort. The A-frame fence was given to my by my neighbor and I made a chicken run out of it using wooden tree branches I staked into the ground on either side to keep it from collapsing and I also wired the top together with left over spool of wire I used on previous fencing and helped give it support by resting it against the A-frame wooden pallet house I made. All of this is portable so I can move it around to fresh grass area's. I plan on making a STRAWBALE CHICKEN COOP in the next few weeks. My love for straw bale garden is extending into all areas of my researched it and turns out it was one of the very first shelters for animals and still holding strong today.

I put a few pics of the garden area's.....they are very overrun with weeds! Since I have been spending so much of my time researching and taking care and building chicken,duck and turkey housing I haven't had much time left for weeds. The center of the StrawBale area has acorn squash, cantaloupe , eggplant, cucumber, sweet potatoes in it. The neighbors chickens and duck are peaking to death the squash and eating the entire plants on some. The tops of the bales were planted with strawberries but they are entirely Gone thanks to little cluckers..... Next year I will put a fence around it to keep out all chickens and ducks including mine...LOL they are so cute it's difficult to be mad......

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chewy's White OUT------

Snow in May? no.............that would be horrible. As horrible as having a major Pest problem already! The pest aren't attacking the veggie garden just yet (hopefully never) but they are indulging on my rose bush leaves.

Last year we planted five rose bushes just outside our bedroom window. I imagined early on smelly sweet rose's and a cool breeze as I drift off the never never land. Last year we didn't get many buds because we planted late in the season. This year I am getting lots of buds and BIG in Diameter Roses. I am really excited about that but the pest are attacking aggressively and eating the leaves up. I have narrowed it down to a specific pest that I believe it to be. The Japanese Beatle I believe is having breakfast,lunch, dinner and snacks in between. If you have any ideas of what else it may be then leave a comment or two.

A few weeks ago we planted in the back outside of our other window another five Rose bushes, and I'm hoping to cure the pest problem on the others before they have a chance to attack the new one's. I was reading online about Natural cures for pest and ran across mixing vegetable oil and baking soda or vegetable oil and Garlic together and spraying the plants. Well I decided since it had just rained to sprinkle the bushes with baking soda, thinking the water would help the baking soda cling or turn into a paste on the leaves. Needless to say it looks like it snowed! If you have another natural cure for garden pest leave a comment or two.

Here are a few pics:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chewys--Momma's Day !!!

New Asparagus patch--

First of all anyone who knows us know that we are a very large, crazy (in a good way) family. We say the more the merrier about most things. (kids,animals etc.) ha,ha. So if you are reading this post and are shocked that they have Ducks, and Dogs in the pool; don't be. We don't just have animals we LIVE animals. No worries, there was no clorine in the pool when the Ducks had their swim. The dog, Titan took to it pretty well but his face in this picture just tickles me!! He reminded me of the Shepard Charlie in the movie "All dog's go to heaven."

For mothers day I only wanted one thing; more garden space!!!! So I took the opportunity to use my Mother's Day power and with full advantage had the hubby and all the children help with a few new plots.

We ended up putting in three new areas. I used the No-dig style for all of them. Relatively quick I had new planting space. Each year I think I have enough space and then I find myself longing for more because I have new things I want to plant.

The new cinder block, No-dig space is mostly for greens (lettuce,cabbage,Brussels sprouts, collards, Swiss chard, cauliflower) In the back of each I planted different variety of tomatoes. In the cinder block holes I planted lettuce, and corn. I'm not sure if the corn will thrive but we will see. When planting the corn I planted four seeds in each hole so that they propagate. I will thin them once they sprout, leaving only the healthiest plant.

Then I decided to use some things around the house for my pole beans. I had an old swing that I did upside down tomatoes on last year. I also had a broken doggie gate that I was going to just throw away but felt I could find some use for it. So I ended up with a make-shift solution for my pole beans. I ended up keeping the soil in the bag and planting directly into them. I just pushed the poles through the bag and left enough space for the plants to grow up and around the poles and eventually onto the gate. I added through the holes some compost and manure.

The smaller cinder block area in the front is for Asparagus only, and the holes in the cinder blocks are planted with a variety of lettuce.

I reused the BIG tire (some comments were worried about leaching of the tire) I planted Sweet Potatoes in the center. I also decided to grow red and russet potatoes in cardboard boxes (I have read that it keeps them pest and disease free) and I also planted watermelon, and cantaloupe in a few boxes.

Onto the Straw Bales-In the center I planted Zucchini, acorn squash, Muss Melon, cucumbers, eggpant, and sweet potatoes. I planted directly IN the bales only; different varieties of Strawberries, and one Big Boy tomatoes plant because I ran out of room elsewhere. The bales this year are second year and broken down more than I had expected. The good news is that I will compost them after this year. I will have to transplant the Strawberries, but I plan on doing another Cinder block, No-dig area for them. I will also buy new bales next year and start the process again.

All In the Family,


PS: Sorry the pics are not in the proper order..still learning how to edit might have to scroll up and down to see corresponding pic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's All In The Straw--

Last year I embarked on an adventurous style of gardening. The Strawbale gardening technique. The outcome was satisfactory enough (aside from the little chewing pests) , that I decided to give it another try this year. I think it worth it just in fact that you don't have to dig so much like a traditional garden. I also like arranging the bales and having a built in weed deterrent. The little rascals have to make it up and over the bales to plant themselves amongst my vegetables. Not to mention that the weeds have to get through the loose straw I have around the plants to be able to embed in my garden, so I have very little weed problems.

My first attempt I had more prep work (seasoning the bales) as I've talked about in previous posts. This year I plan on only soaking the bales for a few days and the last day spraying them with miracle grow. Also my bales are far more broken down this year so I intend on filling them in with compost, topsoil, bloodworm, manure instead of just layering across the very top of the bales. When you begin with new bales the straw is very tightly packed and it can be difficult to separate enough to get your plants in, but not impossible. You just have to hack out or use a spatula to separate the top of the bale like a book, insert your plant or seed and close the bale back together. My bales this year are second season bales and after this year I will compost them <---------waste NOT want NOT !!! Here are a few pictures of the second season bales and the process of prepping the center area.

I already had my rectangle shape set out from last year

I used the center of the Straw bale garden all winter as a compost area

First I raked all the compost out and layered it with newspaper, cardboard, topsoil, bloodworm, manure, and more compost from the store.

Then raked back in my Compost.

Soon I will PREP the outer bales again, and post pics!

In the meantime the center area is ready!!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I see Asparagus !!!!

A few days ago I was turning my compost and found beautiful black dirt at the bottom. I was so excited and anxious to get using it.

I ended up grabbing a few shovels full and putting it on my Asparagus patch; today lo and behold I have shoots of Asparagus. I had one shoot a few days ago but today I have a least five more! I don't know if it's due to my compost feeding them well or not but I'd like to think so.

I am overjoyed and looking forward to this year's garden. I also have seedlings emerging of radishes and lettuce. All winter I have rented books from the library and have taken notes on what like what ie: what type of soil do tomatoes like etc...

Also off the top of my head, because I had so many cardboard boxes that I had stored up to use on the No-dig style gardens I do...I was wondering what else I could do with cardboard boxes and so I planted a few with cantaloupe seed and watermelon seed. After doing this later I had the thought that maybe someone has planted in cardboard boxes and went on the internet to see. Sure enough! some people swear by growing their potatoes in cardboard boxes they get a better crop and less risk of disease. I was very excited to see this and plan to experiment and have the back yard full of cardboard boxes! I am going to try all types of veggies and have already started! One thing I thought of was to tape the outside of the box to give it more stability from the rain get it through this growing season. It should last a few short months as long as I don't move it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Early Spring Planting--

If your itching to get that garden started and can't stand to wait much longer than your in luck. Sooner than later is the time to start those early spring loving plants. Here in Ohio maybe even a few weeks ago you and I could have started, but today I started my cool weather plants.

I ended up squeezing a lot of seeds and variety into a little space. I plan on thinning them out and transplanting them elsewhere once they get to a viable size. I used my No dig Lasagna style garden area. One end has Asparagus plants from last year and I expect them to do well this year and give me more stalks. On the opposite side I have started lettuce, peas, radishes, beans, cauliflower, and broccoli. The lettuce you can cut and replant into late fall, giving yourself fresh lettuce constantly. The variety of early spring veggies is pretty good. Besides what I mentioned above you can start potatoes, cabbage, kale even before the last frost.

The No dig Lasagna style is built with cinder blocks as it's border. The inside is layered with old newspaper, cardboard etc and straw. Then it is covered with topsoil, compost, manure etc..that way you don't have to dig or pull weeds. This is my second year of lasagna style and straw bale gardening and I really love it. It's easy and convenient to do rather than a chore and in my opinion a lot faster process. In just a few hours I had it layered with all the components and the seeds planted and watered. I didn't have to till up the ground and pull rocks and weeds all day. This makes my garden experience much more enjoyable.

Now that the lasagna style garden is done I am back to dreaming about what I want to do with the straw bale garden area. I am even thinking about expanding or adding another straw bale garden area. In the meantime I am anxious to see sprouting in my cool weather, Lasagna style garden and deciding what herbs to plant in the cinder block holes. My Rosemary, Thyme and parsley all came back this year. My other herbs like Basil are seasonal and need to be planted every year.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Your All Quacks !!!

Like many of you I can't wait to sink my fingers into some dirt. I daydream about what I want to plant and what stage the plants will be in what month. I can visualize all the green sprouting forth from a little hard work, giving my family back in abundance.

At the moment one of my compost piles is in the center of my straw bale garden. Just waiting to be put to good use on this years crops. Over the long hard winter I filled it with all my vegetables and fruit scraps from my kitchen. Along with coffee grounds and hair from a few kids haircuts. I didn't put urine on it because well.......seemed kinda weird, but I'm sure my husband had the occasional late night stroll and may have contributed. Also when I've mucked out the rabbit pen his dropping have made their way to the compost heap. Currently I have two compost areas...One is as I said in the center of my straw bale garden border and the other is a movable huge storage tub that I put holes in so the rain etc..can drain. I use the storage container one for most of the rabbit droppings, lawn scraps and dead plants etc. I ended up with two compost areas because the straw bale garden border is near to the back door so the ease and convenience of just opening the door in the dead of winter and tossing the banana peals was to alluring to pass up. The problem is that I will have to shovel and rake it out before I start my no dig straw bale gardening again this year. Also I am new to composting and I didn't realize that seeds from say green peppers and cantaloupe etc..are not supposed to be put into compost because you might get unwanted plants. But I say what could be unwanted about a organic plant? but then again if your into the LOOKS of your garden and you ahve a row of say lettuce and a pepper plant appears in the row or you have beautiful zucchinis growing and a stay cantaloupe vine appears OH MY! not really!!! I might end up using that compost heap in it's own little area and see what comes from it. Maybe that would be a neat experiment to see what plants find their way to life from just a compost heap.

Anyhow...the last few days that's it's been sunny and kinda warm I went out to turn the heaps and WOW what beautiful black soil I found! I never thought I would get excited over dirt but this made my heart go pitter patter. I couldn't believe that bush branches, and fruit and veggies and rabbit Poo, hair, urine, coffee grounds would turn into something so rich and nutritious and repeat the cycle by feeding my upcoming plants.

When I first decided to do this straw bale garden it was on a fluke. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn't..and I didn't really care that much. I mean I remember planting a few sparse gardens over the years and they did great without much involvement once I planted them. Well something changed for me last year and will forever have changed me in the upcoming years. I found I really enjoyed the experience of gardening from the starting process through the composting "ending" stage and how it meant so much more than just getting something from it. It's for me about giving back to the earth too. About doing what the GOOD LORD meant for you to do. To tend something with your time and energy and respect it. Respect the fact that you can FEED your family, and you can replenish the earth as well.

I don't know. Basic's is what I'm trying to get back to. The simplicity in the world that is often faded out with sounds of electronics or a busy schedule. I want to sit down at the table and eat what I've grown with my children and husband. I want us to give thanks for having the ability of this great earth to provide year after year a harvest.

If you read my blog at all you might remember the post on chewys little chewers. Yes, I had a caterpillar problem and maybe slugs..Well I tried and it worked somewhat; using garlic water and dish soap. This year though I decided to add two live additions to eradicate the pest problems of the past. Our new additions are a pair of cute little ducks named Nitzy and Nori...the five year old name them!

Once your plants are established and of reasonable size you can have your chickens or ducks troll the area for any little buggy delights. I researched them and many people said that they will be hearty guards of your pottage as long as they don't take a liking to eating them. To prevent this you have to have your plants at a hardy size that can resist a nibble or two and still thrive. Also they will eat the grass and weeds! Well I am going to give it a try. Another plus is that they can share a larger pen with our mini-Rex rabbit. I might try it when they are older and see if they get along. In the meantime they are living in a storage tub, with a heat lamp in the bathroom and take the occasional dip in the tub.

PS: For less than twenty dollars I got two ducks and a massive bag of feed. Very economical!!! pestbuster!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


If your feeling the winter blues your not alone. Just when I think the end is in sight poof! another 8-12 inches of snow. Hey, I don't mind the serenity snow can have cleansing the earth and making it new again; Eager to push forth in the spring new life and budding wonderment. I don't mind the snow especially when you take a step out your front door late at night and the moon is casting a glow across the surface in a silvery, sleek shine and all is silent. The air bites gently, and you inhale the freshest of fresh air(ahh....I love having a moment of silence, stepping out on my porch at night after all the children are far far away in dreamland) I don't even mind my kids having a few snow days and a break from school. At this point though the kids are getting restless and my good will and patience are running out.

Boredom: <<--------That word is a CURSE word in our house! It is outlawed along with many other words in our house. The "I'm bored" pinging off the lips of four children has quickly earned them a chore if they say it! So if they are "bored" well then have I got a solution for you! They have learned at an amazingly fast speed NOT to let it slip or even show any sort of boredom because there is always laundry, dishes, sweeping, cleaning bathrooms etc to do.

There comes a breaking point for all moms who have run out of board games, hide -N- seek Indoors, building a million Snow-men, painting, play-doh, haircuts, videos on demand (why the heck do they play the same movies for weeks on end!) scary story time.....when it turns into my five year old grabbing my face as I try to keep an eye on my screen and type this while he says with his tongue sticking out " is my tongue white or red mommy?" "are my teeth white Mommy?" and I say "your tongue is red Gabe and your teeth are white." which causes him to fall on the floor crying hysterical because he just ate a Popsicle and was betting on a RAINBOW!!!!!!!!!!!
I tell ya!!! The natives are getting restless and I just hope they don't start eating their young!

Oh yea! this is a gardening blog isn't it? well, my original idea today was to suggest beating the winter blues by charting out, and dreaming on paper your garden plans. Oh, it can be so exciting to just map out what you want to plant this year and where. Rather you use a computer program and have it all fancy and perfect or if you scribble it down on a napkin; either way it gets you excited and motivated. Maybe you keep a gardening journal and each year you plan out your space methodically and each plant and vegetable is compared to the years before; deciding on what can do better here or there or what you have or haven't tried yet.