Tag Archives: Writing

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

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

Rooing the Day

When Ray and I decided to get chicks again, we agreed that we only wanted layers for eggs. We went with the bigger layers so that when they were ready for retirement, we’d have some nice meat for the freezer.

“Chicks,” I said. “Let’s get ’em.”
“We’ll be home for awhile.”
“Why not?” he said. “Let’s do it.”
We both shrugged with a smile.

We brought our new flock of 8 home and the boys immediately fell in love with them. We handled them daily and played with them as much as we possibly could. Joe named one Crystal and a few others Cheep and Peep. Jake called one Pupil and the rest were The Sunny Sisters.

At first, they’re cute and fuzzy,
with the sweetest little cheeps.
Then they grow real feathers,
and sharp claws and razor beaks.

One of the Buff Orpintons was quite a bit bigger than the rest. We thought that maybe it was just older or maybe just grew at a faster rate than the Red Comets. She quickly claimed the alpha position in the flock.

One buff was big and fluffy,
her feathers had a shine.
She nipped at all the others,
keeping them in line.

And then, one morning when we were moving them outside for some fresh air…we heard it. Not yet a full-throated crow, but the early attempts of one. Ray, deep in denial, said that hens sometimes crow too.

“I’m sure it’s not a rooster,”
my husband shook his head.
But I knew we had one,
so I just smiled and said…

“I know you’d like to think that,
but you should hear this crow.”
He hung his head, defeated,
“I just don’t want to know.”

He is right. There are times when a hen will take the alpha position in a rooster-less flock, but it is rare for a young hen, only 10 weeks old, to suddenly start crowing.

Especially, with no rooster in area to mimic.

So…

Cock-a-doodle-doo!