Category Archives: Garden Stories

Homestead Plant Directory

Several years ago, when we first moved into our small homestead, I started throwing wildflower seeds in our back 2ish acres where we’d let the grass grow and the thistles thrive.

I’d snap up the cheap boxes of wildflower mix whenever they’d hit the sale rack at Wal-Mart. Sometimes the boys and I would make “seed bombs” and sometimes I’d just close my eyes and sprinkle.

Time passed and soon wildflowers started popping up.

Birds spread more seeds. Then came the pollinators. Butterflies and bees did that thing they do and more flowers popped up. Soon, our grassy pasture turned into a gorgeous wildflower prairie.

But…there was one, tiny problem. I’d long thrown the boxes away and we had no idea what most of the plants and flowers were. We’d walk through our maze and marvel at the colors popping up throughout the Spring and Summer.

“Ooo, look at that pretty purple one!”

“Ahhh, that yellow one looks a little like that yellow one.”

Beauty is beauty and needs no label…but it sure would be nice to be able to describe all the wondrous plants in our pasture beyond “flowers and stuff”.

My husband had the idea to create a plant directory. I snapped up the notion and ran with it. It is now part of our science curriculum. Picking, pressing and identifying. Discussing scientific names, photosynthesis, growing zones, medicinal uses, and on and on.

We incorporated art into our lessons while we read about the flower or plant we’d chosen.

This is no small project. We have around 2 acres of prairie with flowers and plants appearing throughout the growing season. It may take us a few years to get them all. By that time, more will have come. Not from us throwing down seeds, but from nature taking over and doing it’s thing.

Nature, left alone
Creates boundless beauty, life
Thriving without end

Morning Quiet

In the morning, when all is still, I quietly make my way to the greenhouse with a cup of coffee for a few moments of solitude.

The soft light dapples the dewy ground.

The morning birds call up the sun.

The air is crisp.

There is a stillness, a warmth trapped in the greenhouse. The birds and morning sounds are muted. I roam around the tables, coffee cup in hand, gently checking my plants.

Then I sit, sipping my coffee and enjoying the moment.

There are times when I feel we should be doing more. Starting more seeds, filling it to bursting with green. But in the quiet mornings, I know that we are using it for exactly what we need.

There will be time to do more. But for now, I enjoy my quiet mornings. Sitting with my cats and soaking in the sun.

After the Freeze

I knew that this first year using the greenhouse to start seeds would be a bit of a learning curve. We do not yet have electricity out there…aside from an extension cord from the house to run the fan when it gets too hot. It gets pretty warm, pretty fast during the day, but it doesn’t take long to cool down to outdoor temperatures once the sun dips below the horizon.

Even though I knew this and even though I had warning of that first late-season freeze, I did not do much to really protect my seedlings. I should have at least brought the tomatoes and peppers in.

I did better for the second freeze.

I had to start over with most seedlings. The tomatoes and peppers froze, turned brown and withered. The lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower survived, but stalled a bit in their growth.

After the freeze…the sun comes up.
The glistening frost melts away.
Surfaces, once dull and drab, sparkle.

After the freeze…the light gets in.
The bitter cold recedes.
Dirt, once dry and parched, revives.

After the freeze…new life emerges.
The harsh winds gentle.
Grass, once brown and dead, brightens.

Refuge

When we built the greenhouse, we thought we’d be creating a space for garden supplies in winter, a head start for seedlings and a season extender. That was exciting. It was enough.

What we didn’t realize, was that it would also become a peaceful oasis for studies. A relaxing place to escape and sit quietly. An outdoor living space for family time and reading.

Oh, and a spa for the cats.

On sunny winter days, we can sit in the greenhouse and do our lessons. It could be 30 degrees outside, but a pleasant 50 and sunny inside the greenhouse.

If the house is too noisy or confining and we just need a different space to focus and learn, we head out to the greenhouse for lessons, reading or to work on a project.

We are looking forward to discovering new ways to enjoy this outdoor space, beyond our original vision. It has become a peaceful place of refuge. A spot to enjoy that first quiet cup of coffee in the morning with only the cat for company.

Nature’s voice muted

Sitting, breathing, quietly

Soaking in the sun

Mischief Makers Day 14: Visitors from the North

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“Figgy, Pixie, I’d like to introduce you to The Gru–I mean, Mr. Grimly.” Lil blushed with embarrassment at her slip. 

“Yes, Mr. Grimly is head of the DFFF,” Nim quickly covered.

Mr. Grimly scowled and looked at each elf in turn. “I can see we have a lot of work to do. MR. JITTER!!!”

Another gnome popped out from behind Mr. Grimly. “Y-yes, sir?”

“It’s time.”

The two words sounded ominous when uttered by such a stern and forbidding gnome. What he lacked in stature, he made up for in demeanor. He was a force. A short, stout, scary force.

“Do you need us to show you around?” Pixie twisted her hands nervously.

“Do you want us to tell you what we’ve been doing here so far this season?” Figgy asked with a shaky voice.

Mr. Grimly tapped his toe and let out a deep, long-suffering sigh. “No. We will learn all we need to during the audit. Carry on about your business.”

He waddled away, barking orders as Mr. Jitter bounced after him. 

“It will be ok, guys,” Lil said. 

“Yes,” added Nim. “It will be over before you know i—.”

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

“Oh no!” said Pixie. “That sounded like Joe!”

The four elves raced to the living room, wondering what could possibly have happened.

Joe stared at the floor where two gnome statues lay.

“Th-they were alive! Just a few seconds ago they were moving.” 

Had it been less stressful, the situation would have been funny. Joe, shocked to find moving statues in his living room, when he planned mischief and mayhem with elves every night.

Mr. Grimly came back to life with a small pop and cleared his throat. “Forgive me. I had forgotten about the…situation here.”

“Joe, meet Mr. Grimly. He’s here to…to…” Figgy looked at Nim and Lil for help.

“He’s here to write an article. For the Elf Times,” Nim said quickly.

“Yes,” said Lil. “It’s a magazine at the North Pole. They want to feature a few of the elves from the Mischief Maker program so he’s—”.

“I am here to evaluate Ms. Powder and Mr. Frost and I would thank you to let me get on with it.” 

He scribbled a few notes on his clipboard, murmured darkly to Mr. Jitter and stalked to the Christmas tree. 

“But he’s–he’s a gnome!” Joe spluttered. “I didn’t know gnomes lived at the North Pole too!”

“Oh yes,” said Glitter. “Gnomes, elves, hobgoblins, unicorns…all magical creatures live at the North Pole.”

Joe’s smile grew larger. “Oh wait until I tell Jake!”

“You can’t tell Jake!” Figgy blurted. “You can’t tell him any of this!”

Joe’s face fell. “Of course, you are right. It’s just…he loves gnomes.”

The team glanced down the hall, watching The Grump make his way to the bathroom, all thinking the same thing.

Jake may like garden gnomes, but they’d bet a year’s worth of gumdrops he wouldn’t like this gnome. 

Mischief Makers Day 9: Game Time

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Nim and Lil barely looked at Figgy and Pixie at check-in, let alone talked to them. The mood at the North Pole was tense and Glitter was even more irritated than usual. 

“Geez,” said Figgy on the flight back. “What in the narwhal horn is going on?”

“I think I know,” said Pixie, finally ready to share her suspicions with Figgy. 

They had both just landed on the windowsill. Figgy turned to her in surprise.

View the autosave

“I overheard Stardust telling Sparkle that she’d heard from Tinsel who got it from Bowie who–”.

“Ok, ok!” burst in Figgy. “I get it. You overheard a conversation. Now can we get to the good stuff?”

Pixie took a deep breath. “Santa found out that the Birthday Beagle and the Easter Bunny are staging a c-o-u-p.”

Figgy stared blankly at Pixie. “A coop?”

“No, a coup! The ‘p’ is silent.” 

“The pee is silent? Are you talking in some kind of code?” 

Pixie huffed and stomped her foot. “Basically, the Beagle and the Bunny have decided that Santa gets WAY too much funding from the Department of Festive Fun and Frivolity. They don’t like it and so have filed several complaints.”

“So?”

“So…the board of directors has agreed to listen to the complaints at a formal hearing.”

“And?”

And…it is set for December 23rd.”

Figgy gasped. 

Pixie nodded.

“That’s why they needed all the available elves?”

“Yes,” Pixie said. “They are trying to come up with a plan to deliver the presents in case Santa is…detained.”

“Oh.”

Both elves sat on the window sill, staring out into the night sky wondering what would happen if Santa couldn’t deliver. 

Knock, knock!

Startled, Pixie and Figgy turned around to see Joe’s face, bright and smiling. He held a small Twister mat in his hand. “I’ve got the games all ready and look what I made for you two!”

The elves both forced bright, cheery smiles and headed inside to finish setting up for Game Day. But their little elven hearts just weren’t as cheerful as usual. 

Mischief Makers Day 6: The Hunt

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Nim and Lil couldn’t stop laughing. Their giggles filled the garage and made the kittens run for cover. 

“It was…pretty… gross.” Joe reluctantly joined in the laughter. His stomach still hurt from his bowl of “Elf Gaspetti“.

Pixie and Figgy sat on the step, scowling at the others. Glitter brayed and then quickly coughed to cover her amusement. 

“Can we just move on already?” Figgy asked.

“Yes,” added Pixie. “You’ve been laughing and poking fun for over an hour already.”

“Oh Pixie,” Lil soothed. “We aren’t making fun. We’ve done our fair share of mischief that backfired. Why, I remember the time…”.

“Yes, yes, yes,” burst in Figgy. “We all know how much fun you and Nim had during your reign, but now it’s our turn so if you could please just stop talking about your ti—.”

Figgy trailed off and a hush fell over the garage. Nim and Lil were shocked by his outburst. Had they been too involved this season? Had they really done too much? Had they…overstepped?

“Wow,” Nim finally said. “Sorry if we stepped on any toes.”

“Yes,” Lil said. “We sure didn’t mean to barge in on your fun. I guess we just miss our days in the field.”

Joe cleared his throat, uncomfortable with the mood in the room. “Why don’t we–.”

“We should go,” Nim and Lil said at the same time. And without another word, they turned and flew out of the garage and into the dark, starry night.

Figgy’s face fell. He felt just awful. “I didn’t mean to just…say it like that.”

Pixie looked at her toes. “Well, at least it’s…out there.”

Glitter glared at both of them. “I told you to talk with them before things got too heated.”

Pixie and Figgy both groaned. What should they do now? They didn’t want to fight with Nim and Lil. They were amazing role models and teachers, and they genuinely had fun with them. 

Figgy gulped. “What have we done?”

Pixie shook her head. “We can’t do anything about it tonight. Let’s just set up the treasure hunt. We can deal with this situation later. Joe, do you have all the clues?”

Joe silently handed a stack of papers to Pixie and shuffled off to bed, mumbling a goodnight to them all. 

As they hid the clues, both elves were asking themselves the same question: Would later be too late?

Mischief Makers Day 1: Memories of Yesteryear

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“Maybe he doesn’t remember,” said Pixie Powder, a petite elf dressed in pink with rosy cheeks and twinkle in her eyes. 

Figgy Frost, dressed in green, bounced on his tiny toes and rubbed the frost off the kitchen window. “Maybe.”

“I don’t see anyone,” said Glitter. “I think the coast is clear.”

The three friends tip-toed through the window and floated down to the kitchen table. They looked around nervously. Did Joe remember the agreement they’d made at the end of the Christmas season last year…

“Wait!” said Lil, turning to the group. “What if Joe promises not to tell anyone?”

Pixie’s head popped up. “Would that work?”

“Lil,” said Nim in a warning tone. “That’s never been done before. It’s against every rule in the book. Literally.”

“I know, I know. But, hear me out. What if we ask Santa to make an exception for a special case?”

“What kind of special case?” asked Figgy.

Lil floated up to Joe and looked him in the eye. “If we can get Santa to agree…will you help us next year, Joe?”

“H-help? Help with what?”

“Our pranks!” said Pixie.

“Our mayhem!” added Figgy.

“Our mischief!” All eyes turned to Glitter, shocked she would promote mischief in any way.

“What?” she said defensively. “Just because I don’t like messes, doesn’t mean mischief is off the table.”

Lil cleared her throat. “Think about how much fun it would be to surprise Jake and your parents each morning.”

Joe looked down at the four hopeful faces. Pixie and Figgy seemed to hold their breath as he thought it over. 

The corner of his mouth hitched up–the start of a smile. “Th-that would be a lot of fun.”

Figgy looked around one more time and sighed. “I guess he forgot afterall.” 

A shuffle of feet, an excited gasp and a happy giggle came from the living room as Joe peeked over the top of the couch. “Hi guys! I’m ready for mischief!”

The trio cheered in an excited whisper and started to tell Joe their plan for the first night, when he brought out a giant box of props. 

“First, I thought we could set up this obstacle course for Jake and I to do. Kind of like you did last year. Then, tomorrow night, we can make a cookie mess in the kitchen. On the 3rd, we can–.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Joe, we already have plans for the first night,” interrupted Pixie with a smile.

“Yes,” added Figgy. “We always leave a start-of-the-season gift before the true mischief begins.”

Glitter grunted in agreement.

Joe’s face fell and some of the sparkle left his eyes. “Oh. Right.”

The team looked at eachother, feeling bad for disappointing him so soon in the season.

“We-ell,” said Pixie. “I suppose we could change it up a little this year.”

“Yes,” agreed Figgy. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to do something different.”

Joe smiled and jumped up and down on his toes. 

“I have an idea,” said Glitter.

The two elves and the young boy looked expectantly at Glitter.

“Maybe we could take turns picking the activity.”

Figgy frowned. “What do you mean ‘take turns’?”

“Tonight, we can do Joe’s idea. Set up an obstacle course. Then, tomorrow, we could pick.”

Pixie and Figgy thought it over. It was a good idea, but could it work?

“Okay,” said Pixie. “Let’s try it!”

Joe bounced on his toes again and put his box of supplies on the table. “So, first we set the trampoline up…”.

Mischief Makers 2019: Epilogue

And now…to fully get ready for the continuing saga of the Mischief Makers, here is the epilogue from last season. ENJOY!

Epilogue

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Mischief Makers 2019: Day 24 and 25

Always a bummer to say goodbye to this team of troublemakers!

Day 24

Day 25

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