Thursday, August 27, 2015

Home Away from Home

View of the Granary coming up the driveway...glorious!

I was just very blessed to get to go to Lexington for a few days to visit my friend Becky. She and her husband Tripp have a GREAT place called Owl Moon Farm, just outside of Lexington and guess what...YOU can go there too!

Becky and Tripp rent out the old granery, but it is not old any more!!  In the last ten years, it has been turned into the most amazing vacation spot!  They are tucked into a valley, surrounded by green, rolling hills and winding country roads. The stars are brilliant in the black velvet sky, but you may never see them if you get tucked into your cozy bed before they come out!

The Granary is located just a few miles from Lexington, Virginia which is the site of many cool shops, restaurants and LOTS of amazing history.

Check it out and then make sure you reserve a weekend to get away from all the chaos and relax!

The view from Becky's front porch, looking toward the Granary.

The future Wedding Barn was once home to some commune folk...they built this awesome ladder!

Amazing piece of art aka the Garden Gate

Link to Airbnb site for lots more pics and details.

Monday, August 24, 2015

I Love Weeds!!

Let me forewarn you...this post is picture HEAVY...but oh, my! I had so much fun down in the Bottom today!

Yesterday we had a big gully washer come rolling through...of course, it was right about the time I went to run an errand for Granny. But Jalapeno went with me, so we had fun splashing through the torrents together!  When we got home, we found a river running down through the Bottom. That island you see in the center of the picture below is our 'burn pile' where I had so much fun photographing today!

After my herb walk with Cyndi last week, I was excited to learn more about what was on our property. Jalapeno and I strolled down in the warm sunshine this morning during a school break and found some plants that I had never seen before. I decided to come back later with my camera, and this is what I found. All id came from and are my best guess. If you see something id'd wrong, please let me know in the comments!

This is Ironweed. Being a great lover of purple, I found it irresistible, and so do the bees! Mixed in with the Ironweed is some gorgeous Thistle, though I am sure that there are not many who would call this noxious weed 'gorgeous!" It certainly is well protected!

This is one that I have not been able to id yet (I am leaning toward Joe Pye Weed, but it seems too small). If you have any ideas, please leave a comment below.  The one thing that I do know is that this iridescent green visitor was busy as could 'bee' on this pink beauty!

I was so excited to see this beauty....Great Blue Lobelia. So pretty, but not good for much besides causing vomiting. I will keep that in mind in case we need to get things moving up here for some strange reason!

I can't get enough of this close up of a Thistle that is sowing it's seed to the wind. Amazing!

And these Chinese Lanterns, aka Ground Cherry...they blended in so well, that I missed them completely on my first pass around the brush pile! 

This one I don't get at all, but love the tiny little green balls that hang from the center of the flower. This one is called Flowing Spurge. Some more research is in order to figure out where it got it's crazy name!

Mullein!!  I have one plant behind the sleeper camper, and I thought that was all...but I just found more down just over the fence in the Booth Field. Now to figure out how to harvest and preserve it.

Does this not look like a plant from a Seuss book!?!  There are two leaves with a flower ball perched right above them...and there are several of these on each stem. I am just starting to learn all of the nomenclature, but I really love this one! Oh, by the way, it is Wild Basil!

This amazing pic is so much nicer big! I love the texture of the grass in the foreground and the softness of the mint behind...and the bee!

And finally, Cyndi Ball...Goldenrod!!  For reals!

Thanks for taking a few minutes to see my wild garden through my lens. In the next few days I will be putting together a post of all the beauties whose names I could NOT come up with!  All help will be appreciated!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Botany, Parilla and Poke Weed

We have started learning about Botany here on the HoW. Planting seeds, harvesting the food that is coming from the garden and trying to id the medicinal herbs (aka weeds) that are all over the property. It has been a lot of fun and we are enjoying the hunt for useful herbs!

This week, my sweet friend Cyndi from Lazy B farm in Georgia came by to pick me up. We had made plans to drive up to Lexington to visit another friend, Becky from Owl Moon Farm. I am on the National Board of Ladies Homestead Gathering with these two amazing gals and we had great plans to get together with the local board for Rockbridge LHG and also to attend their monthly Gathering.

My National Board peeps: Dee, Jo, Becky, Cyndi and Me!

I have a history with Cyndi. The first time she came to my farm in Georgia, I was nervous as could be. She is the founder of LHG and I was quite intimidated by her knowledge and what she had done in founding the group, Little did I know that she is salt of the earth. Truly.

Cyndi and two other board members were coming for dinner and to attend an Interest Meeting for a new chapter of LHG that we were hoping to start in my neck of the woods. So I decided to do what any self respecting nutty hostess would do. I tried a new recipe. Oh, yes I did. And if you know me at all, you know I am not a neat cook (my mother often wonders if I was switched at birth with the neat and tidy child she was supposed to take home)....Anyway, I digress.

The Ladies who attended what would become LHG Dawson/Forsyth!
I had already planned on doing a taco bar for dinner. Nice and easy and people can put what they want on their taco salad. For some unknown reason, I decided to make homemade corn tortillas at the last minute. Yes. From scratch.. Oi.

By the time Cyndi, Dee and Kelly arrived, half of my kitchen was covered in flour and there were tons of misshapen tortillas all over the counter. It was a mess! Thankfully, they were very gracious and overlooked the mess. We enjoyed a yummy dinner followed by a quick tour of my farm.

We had recently moved to the farm and I was super proud of my tiny garden behind the sunroom. I had planted a rosemary bush, and some plantain that I had gotten at an LHG swap, and I also had some gorgeous purple basil that a friend had given to me. I proudly showed off my garden to Cyndi. Her first words were "Hey, that's parilla growing there!" Me: "What, that? That's purple basil!" Cyndi..."No, that's parilla! Better watch out because if it goes to seed, it will be everywhere!"

I was so embarrassed. Here I was so sure I was growing an herb to make spaghetti sauce with, and instead I was growing a pernicious weed! It actually does have some good uses, so it's not all bad. But Cyndi was right! When I repotted my rosemary to move it to VA, I discovered tiny parilla plants in the pot!

Parilla that I dried and put away for "just in case"

Fast forward to this week, and Cyndi is at my new place. We took an herb walk and I showed her our garden and we toured the edges of the yard, looking for useful weeds. Cyndi pointed to a plant with large, oval leaves and said, "That's poke weed." Me; "What?!  Oh, no! My chickens LOVE that and I have been pulling it and feeding it to them!" Once again, I have misidentified a plant and could have done in my whole flock! Poke weed leaves are eaten in the spring, when they are young, but only after being cooked in three successive batches of fresh water. Oh. My. Goodness. On days like this, I am thankful that God hands out so much mercy to me!

Yes, I can id THIS as poke weed...but did not know what they immature plants look like. Now I know!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Skunk and the Buckeyes

There is a skunk amongst us. Well, it was amongst us. Right now, it is down in the Bottom, pushing up Daisies!

I really don't have a problem with the local wildlife. Until they start messing with my Babies, that is! Then it is Game On.

I went out a few mornings ago to let the birds out, crossed the electric fence and was halfway to the Eggmobile, when I noticed something small and black circling the chick pen. It took my brain a minute to comprehend what my eyes were seeing...SKUNK! There was a skunk trying to get in the Buckeye pen!

Immediately, I leapt outside of the electric net and tried to figure out what to do! You see, the Hillbilly was off property, it was 7 am, and I don't know how to shoot a .22. Something that quickly needs to be remedied!

My first thought was to try and chase it away. So I lowered two sections of net, all the while keeping my eye on the rascal who was intent on getting some breakfast. I then gathered some stones and threw them at him, hoping to get him to cross the downed net and go into the field behind the chicken pen. Alas, I am a terrible rock-thrower. Just terrible. So that did not work.

Next up, the children! I ran back down to the camper and rounded up all the kids, who were more than happy to rain down fire on the intruder. Problem is, they only have BB guns. And they have used them for things other than shooting, so the sights are off and, well, they are pretty much useless.

Plan C...panic?

Nope! I used technology to text my cousin-in-law over the hill, to see if there were any hunters on the property at that early hour. She (being the great chicken lover that she is, plus a great neighbor) sent her husband right up with a .22...thank you Lord! Cousin Dave scouted the situation, took his time, and with one shot, a loud boom and much excitement on the part of the chickens (and the children), the rascal was sent to, well, where ever chicken killing skunks are sent.

Little Man scooping up the now harmless predator.

For you see, what we did not immediately realize, is that the killer managed to kill two of our Buckeyes and it wounded a third.  While we are sad we have lost the two chicks, we are happy to report that the injured bird has healed up very nicely and is doing just great! We are trying to think of a proper name for her/him. Something that will help us remember how brave it was, to face the dratted skunk, and live...any ideas!?

Hanging out and enjoying the summer sunshine!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Grandpa Reynolds and the Grapevines

These are grapes that grow behind the house. I am sure that they were starts from Grandpa Reynolds' place.

Every time I see the grapes growing around the property, I think of two things. One is the awesome grape juice my MIL used to make with these grapes. There are still a few dusty half-gallon jars down in the cool cellar...but they are quite old, so I am a little afraid to try them out!

The second is the story of Grandpa Reynolds and the Grapevines. You see, many years ago, Grandpa Reynolds was up on a ladder on the smokehouse, trimming the grape vines that nearly covered the old, weathered wood building. The story goes that Grandpa fell off the ladder and hurt his back. Stubborn Reynolds man that he is, he refused to go to the doctor. After three days in bed, someone finally forced him into the car and a trip to the doctor. After examining the x-rays, the Dr. told Grandpa that he had broken his back! And furthermore "This is not the first time your back has been broken." Grandpa replied, "You know, I do remember another time, 10-15 years ago, when I fell off a ladder while pruning some fruit trees. It laid me up for a few days."

These stories from our family remind me of the stories of the tenacity of the settlers who came to this region in the 1700-1800's. It is amazing, the lives that they lived and the foundation that they have laid for our country.

More of our summer bounty, almost ready to pick!
Summer Beauty

We had the most breathtaking sunset last night. It was almost as if a bit of Heaven slipped out!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On Fulltime RV Living

Our home, tucked under the persimmon trees, behind the garage

Details matter. You never realize how much they matter (if you are a right-brain global thinker, like me, that is) until you live fulltime in an RV.

Now I, like most folks who live in our country have lived in a stick and brick home all my life. I have probably moved more than the average American, the move here putting my total to 20 moves in my lifetime...not so bad for someone who was NOT a military brat! And my personality is one that likes change, so all in all, the moves have been good.

I grew up with six people, one bathroom and no a/c in Georgia. Not quite the "shoebox in the middle of the road" but cozy, nonetheless. And since I married the Hillbilly, we have lived in everything from roomy 3K square foot homes, down to 800 square foot apartments. But this last move, this 20th move of my life...this has put us in the tiniest place of all. A 250 sf camper! Five of us. You do the math.

All in all, I really love living in this camper. We are all learning to be better humans, to respect private space, to work together, to be more forgiving and thoughtful. There is no "disappearing" for hours and disconnecting from everyone else (great for the two extroverts, a little more troublesome for the three introverts). It has been a good learning experience for us all.

The reason we are care for these two Outlaws
But back to details and how they impact our day to day life in a camper.

Sitting there, in your stick and brick, have you ever had to decided when you were cooking dinner, if you wanted to use the oven OR the a/c? How about run the hair dryer or the water heater? Well those are a few of the things we deal with every day. We are constantly juggling the power coming into the camper. It can get quite amusing at times...."Oh, shoot, I forgot to turn off ______________!!" (Which is followed by rushing to find a coin to open the fuse box to flip the breaker back on, after turning off the water heater.)  We hear that EVERY day...and more importantly, when someone goes to get in the shower "Did the water heater get turned back on?!"

Oh, wait...speaking of water heater, I don't think I turned it back on after I turned off the oven...hold on.

The water heater's gonna wear out soon!

Ok, done.

As I was saying, managing all this electricity stuff is quite entertaining!

Then there is the potty. Basically a very large chamber pot that is tucked under the floor in the back of the camper. The chamber pot, called a "black water

tank" by the RV'ing community...personally, I think chamber pot is way more fun!

The Chamber Pot

This lovely Chamber Pot has to be pumped out weekly into the septic tank here on the farm. My amazing husband has acquired this job for himself...not because he wants it (he actually said last night as we stood in the light of the full Blue Moon pumping out said Chamber Pot: "I would rather be caned than do this!") but because all the rest of us run as soon as we see the tank reaching capacity! Oi vey! What a nasty job. I must say though, that he has put all his wits to the project and made it as easy as it can be. He found this cool thing called a "macerator" and it chews up everything and makes it small enough to run down a garden hose to the septic tank. Pretty darn amazing, if you ask me!

"Once in a Blue Moon?" Here ya go!

Wait, did I mention "oven" earlier? We have been here since March, and I just this week bought an oven!! Everyone was shouting and dancing for joy!  Over an oven. See, when you live a simpler life, the small things become big!

So this oven. It lives on a little rack tucked behind the little chair in the little living room, um, er, in the Darling Daughter's bedroom, I guess. Like I said, this fulltime RV living is fun!!  Really.

The living room, kitchen annex and DD's bedroom!

Anyway, back to the oven. With it's purchase, the children began dreaming...dreaming of things like bread, and cookies and bread! Pretty much, they just want bread. So now, I better to go digging through the kitchen boxes and see if I can find a bread pan. It's there, somewhere. I just know it!