Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year News

Decorating for Christmas is so fun but I have to say that taking down the decorations and cleaning up is very very satisfying. Does anyone else feel that way?  This year I bought some of the ornament organization boxes and I'm lovin' them. I'm also trying to sort through and eliminate decorations that I didn't use and probably won't use in this cottage due to lack of space, or those that were more appropriate when our grandkids were small.  My mantra for 2011 ---Simplify-Simplify-Simplify.

The seed catalogues are coming in by droves and the postman is feeling it, I'm sure!  I LOVE seed catalogues as you can imagine. There is nothing more satisfying than perusing the catalogues for new veggies or plants or old heirloom seeds to try in the garden this year. I've planned the layout of the 2011 garden so I can't wait to see it evolve. We're thinking of adding two more tanks for my raised bed area. I'm going to start seeds indoors this spring so Mark and I are figuring out where we'll have our 'indoor greenhouse'.  That means we're looking at what floor space on the south side of our house that we are willing to relinquish to the seedlings! We have marvelous south light so it should be good for starting seeds.

This is the raised bed garden as seen from the
dining room windows; we plan to add 2 more tanks This link is to Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants.  Several years ago, we went to the Tomato Fest at Carmel, CA. It was wonderful -- the food featuring heirloom tomatoes was prepared by top local restaurants, several wine cellars had tasting stations, and then there was the tent with 300+ varieties to taste (see picture below):

Gary Ibsen started the Tomato Festival in Carmel and he is one of the pioneers in bringing heirloom tomatoes back into gardens across the country. He recommended Laurel's plants because he only sells seeds with a minimum order of $15.00. Now that's alot of tomatoes for a home gardener. His website is worth checking out for not only the seeds but for all things tomato...

look closely & you'll see the snow flurries
Dreaming of spring as the snow flies!    It has been snowing since last night and we have 4"-5" right now. No wind so just a nice snowfall. Our bird habitat has been very active this morning as you can imagine. Having multiple feeders with a variety of food along with fresh water is a guarantee for many different species of birds. Add no cats to that equation and it's even better. Feeding time at the feeders is a visual treat to watch: Northern cardinals, dark eyed juncos, robins, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatch, hairy woodpecker, goldfinches, rosy house finches, Harris's sparrow, house sparrow & the occasional bluejay and northern flicker.

Ok, I'll reveal what I've been doing with the chickens this winter. They have been in training with a German trainer and here is the result...magnificent, isn't it?

Hee Hee Hee Hee...don't I wish! I know I'd be on David Letterman's Stupid Animal Tricks segment for sure!

And finally, I'm an avid reader all year, but with reduced outside activity around the ranch, winter is the best time to curl up with a great book any time of day. One night on TV I watched a movie with Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes called The Duchess. I loved the movie and the main character, the Duchess of Devonshire, who was a brilliant political strategist --- one of the first females allowed this kind of power in the English political structure & credited with being one of the first to refine political messages for mass communication. It was so fascinating that I was compelled to follow up by reading an excellent historical biography about the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer, who was quite a complex woman. For those Anglophiles, Georgiana was a relative of Princess Diana (Spencer). For those of you who enjoy historical biographies, you will appreciate this book; Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman.

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