Monday, June 30, 2008

Baby Bird Update

My husband tipped baby bird out of the bucket. He was unwilling to go but we felt he needed a little push.

We did leave him at the comfortable edge of the low balsam fir. An hour later he had disappeared. We suspect he finally found the courage to strike out on his own.

We wish him luck. A bounty of worms and grubs before him.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A New Surprise Around Every Corner

In between measuring Keto food and trying to get my 3 year old to drink like a race horse, we had a few fun surprises today.

On the way home from walking the dog I found a dead baby robin in front of our door. Within the hour the boys found his brother or sister in the driveway looking very confused.

Because of the dead sibling we worried about cats or parental abandonment so I put him in a bucket and the boys had a great time finding worms and berries and feeding him with chopsticks.

After a short internet consult, I discovered this one was probably old enough to have hopped right out of the nest. At this age the parents let their antsy kids hop all over the ground and come to feed them (wherever they are) when necessary. We decided to help junior find a safe place to hide until Mom or Dad could make it over with a meal.

The boys keep coming to tell me he's still in the sideways bucket after 2-3 hours. He doesn't want to hop much. After we put him back on the ground I heard a lot of interested chirping from the old oak tree so I think parents are still present.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Little Break

Sorry for the slow blog here. I've been away at the hospital with my youngest and I'll probably take a few more days off getting used to the Ketogenic Diet. Hopefully it will help with his seizures.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why This Is a Learning Process

I love broccoli, but I've never grown broccoli (or most vegetables) before.

For the last 3 weeks I've been watching our giant broccoli plant expectantly. The baby head got bigger and bigger.

But how big is big enough? Will it get bigger if I leave it alone?

It's like blowing up a balloon for the first time. You have no idea how far you can stretch the rubber without popping it.

I popped my balloon today. The beautiful broccoli started to flower. Broccoli heads are actually unopened flowers for the plant. Today I chopped it off and cooked it for lunch. It was a bit scraggily (the flowers spread out when they are ready to bloom) but it tasted okay. Boy #3 insisted that he get all the stem (his favorite) and he did.

Now we just have to see how big the side shoots will get. A tiny little head is starting above each large leaf.

Monday, June 16, 2008

June Garden Bloom Day

A day late, but the egg lady called and said we should come right over if we wanted some eggs. What could I do?
Chives hemmed in by oregano but blooming proudly. It was flat to the ground just yesterday from all the rain.
Yellow Iris the neighbors gave us when they yanked out the whole bed to remodel 4 or 5 years ago. This set bloomed last year for the first time. This year we get triplets.
Impressionist photo of Bachelor Button (or so my mother says). She sent me home with it last year and I thought it died from neglect. I was so wrong.
Even the potatoes are blooming. They are still waterlogged from the torrential rains we're having in the Midwest. I'm hoping they dry out and perk up a bit.
My old enemy, Bishop's Weed. Still I like the delicate Queen Anne's Lace look of it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The wonders of recycling

These are my climbers.

The big one on the right is the skeleton of an old outdoor umbrella. The little one on the left is a tripod made of metal shelving and plastic ties. In the background on the right is a dishwasher rack supporting some mung beans my husband planted.

I probably don't have a Martha Stewart yard.

Living in a house with four boys is hard on furniture and appliances. At some point we got tired of throwing things away all the time and my very creative spouse got--well--creative. Stacks of odd junk got stacked behind the shed.

I've noticed that this penchant for junk-cobbling has been passed down to my oldest son. He combs the recycling bins for his inventions. Did I mention this was the child who tried to build a 'brainwashing hat' with a metal bowl, electrical wiring, and a lava lamp? Did I mention he used good scientific practice by testing it--not out on himself--but on his sibling?

Whatever genetic wackiness is going on I seem to be getting into the spirit of it. We have a bolo golf set that I am reimaging for tomato stabilization. Those things are worse than lawn jarts in terms of fun that can cause a concussion.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Demanding Children

Some day they'll be bigger than us...and they'll still be hungry.


Sorry if the download time is long. We caught this sparrow (Chipping Sparrow? White-throated Sparrow? Check out this cool bird identification resource. I played with it for 20 minutes during the download) trying to feed what I assume are it's young. Either that or the whopping baby Robins have found a new food source. The two little peepers chased the sparrow all over the front yard, every few feet it would turn around and appear to feed them (either that or make an aggressive poke). Once they sparrow flew off and returned in a minute or two and really did feed both of them. Talk about passive-aggressive.

The whole experience reminded me of a very intense reading of The Burgess Bird Book when I was a kid. The section about how cowbirds lay their eggs in other nests for other birds to raise horrified me. Poor little sparrows, vireos, and warblers trying to feed the giant cowbird chicks to the detriment of their own babies. Sniff.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A gift and a rant about city ordinances

Someone gave me this nifty hinged square. Her husband stacks them and uses them to hold scrap iron.

I immediately thought...what a cool garden bed! It's even mobile. At the end of the season I can fold it up and put it behind the shed.

At this point I'm not sure where to put it (I'm running out of sunny spots in the back). I'd love to find a spot on the front or side lawn but the city has been giving us a lot of flack over the last year. Someone is complaining about our lack of neatness when lining up our garbage cans beside the house, the placement of four (full) recycling bins behind them (instead of in the garage), and the fact our boys leave their bikes in the side yard most days.

If there's anything I don't need to hear while taking care of my littlest and his progressively worsening seizures, this kind of prissy suburban attitude is it.

Last year it was our VW bus/campmobile (basically a bus with bed, closets, sink). It's licensed. It runs. It's not a rusted out hulk on blocks. Apparently, that's not good enough for the city. If you don't drive it every 10 days (don't ask me how they know we don't) it must be removed from public view. We've lived here 8 years and suddenly we need to remove the garage door from its chain, let the air out of the tires, and find some way to fit it in the garage.

So of course there's no room for bikes and garbage cans in there any more. On to this year's complaint fest.

So I guess the front yard is off limits. Thank God for the ornamental cedars around the back. Who knows what I'd have to get rid of next. Probably the compost pile. Maybe the dishwasher rack climbers I made for the beans. I'm sure the whole thing would be cited until there were no more fun toys or funky pots left.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mow Green

I mowed the back yard yesterday.

We got this mower, not because of the cost of gas, but because a few years ago I didn't feel I could use a gas mower safely around my toddlers. I didn't want to leave them in the house alone (this may seem odd but if you had 4 small boys and numerous electrical appliances you would understand), so the grass rarely got mowed.

I remembered reel mowers from my childhood. I remembered that they were heavy and a pain to push, so when dh came home with this one from a garage sale I wasn't completely psyched.

Things have changed. Like cloth diapers there is a whole new generation.

A few things I've learned in my 2 years of reel ownership.

1. Get up to speed. It cuts better if you're moving at a nice speed and the reel is spinning quickly.

2. Mow regularly. Unlike gas mowers this one will not cut down grass over a certain height...say 6"...and will not do a good job with grass over 4" high.

3. Keep the weeds under control. Tall, 'rubbery' weeds like dandelion can bounce right back up after you go over them. Height is an issue here because the stalks quickly pass the 4" stage. Our favorite weed control measure is handing a child a plastic golf club while we mow and telling them to whack the heads off. Very amusing.

4. Watch out for sticks. There's nothing worse than getting up to speed (#1) and get stopped short by a twig the size of your finger.

If all my helpful hints haven't deterred you, there many reasons I love my reel mower. I love the quiet whipwhipwhipwhip sound. I love how light it is. I love that I can smell the cut grass (which falls down and fertilizes the lawn) and not gas or CO2. I love that I can stop the split second a 3 year old runs into my path. I love the price tag (can't beat $25) and the fewer gas tanks in the garage.

Now if only they could invent something between a shovel and a snow blower.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why we love the Zoo

The zoo opened last weekend.

Petting Zoo chicks.

Nursing baby goats.

The calf with no name. (Should we name him, Mom?)

Peck. Peck.

Outside of the petting zoo we also have 2 ring-tailed lemurs, a tortoise (who wanders all over the zoo trimming the grass on sunny days), Jerusalem donkeys, llamas, turkey, doves, tadpoles, emu, and an African porcupine.

There's also a children's garden where children from the community learn to plant and grow vegetables every year. Scarlet runner beans over an iron dragon. Tepees for cucumbers. Boxes for other veggies like cabbage and tomatoes. A small pond complete with weird iron frog statue.

We love the zoo. More pictures later. I'm hoping I can convince one of the boys to thy the Sprouts program and we can garden at the zoo together.