Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Sweetest Autumn

We've been enjoying a magnificent autumn. The trees and grasses are spectacularly colored this year with less wind to swipe the leaves from the trees. The wild grass is the same fall colors as the trees which paints a lovely palate that is a feast for the eyes. We've also been enjoying coolish weather in the 60s and 70s with cool evenings.

There are a lot of woolly bear caterpillars around this fall. It used to be thought that they could predict the weather of the forthcoming winter by their coloring; however, most scientists discount the folklore of woolly bear predictions as just that, folklore! I've noticed more than ever this year and I think it's because we've had such a long mild autumn.

The easy fall weather has encouraged the flowers to continue blooming and I've noticed several Monarch Butterflies on the flowers in the front birdhouse bed. I'm so grateful.
A closer look below of three have to look closely to see the orange and black butterflies...

The flowers have been so plentiful and beautiful this fall that I've been able to have regular bouquets in the house, one of the things that brings delight to me.

Our evenings have been blessed with gorgeous sunsets.
I hope your fall is mild and lovely. What will winter bring?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Update on New House

We've made great progress on the house. The roof is shingled, the well is dug, the plumbing and electrical are almost finished; still need the septic system installed, the HVAC is almost done, just need to complete the geothermal heat/air system and siding is going up.

                Here are the roofers almost finished.
This is the back side of the house.

New garage doors are installed but the windows on the doors need to be moved to next lower level(now done). House is now enclosed.
Here we are laying out the kitchen table. The four windows are the sink area. The next room is the master bedroom.
Windows and outside doors are installed. This is the front door and it will be red. The fireplace is installed as well and you can see the wires the electrician is pulling throughout the house.
View from the kitchen to the living room. You can see the fireplace better and all the wonderful windows. Wires are being pulled all through the house. Plumbing is almost finished, only outside trenches etc. need to be completed.
Digging the well, found water at 320 feet, clear, good water.
Here's the drill with all that pipe. It was a fascinating process.

Here is the owner, Dick P., holding one of the water pipes. Happy the well is in with good water. We are having the best time building this house together. Mark and I are so happy that Dick will be our neighbor

You can see the garage windows have been moved and the siding is going up.
View of the edge of garage and front porch. The porch will have a different siding which you'll see when it's finished early next week.
Another view of the porch and south side of house. The insulation is scheduled soon and then the drywall. We're moving along, finally. Being so far from the city makes us vulnerable to the subcontractors' schedules. We're hoping he gets in before the snow flies!

This has been the most fun project I have ever worked on. What will I do next?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Our Newest Baby

Our best mare, Boone, had a late baby this year and he is adorable! Usually baby horses are born in the spring but we have the thrill of an August baby. His daddy is Cats a Kwackin, a son of High Brow Cat, a money earner performance horse. This is a special little guy!
Just two days old, still a little wobbly,
but starting to buck and play
The newborn baby horse tail is
so cute and fuzzy
He's never far from Mom
You can see how tiny he is next to the mares
and the feeder
He is friendly and curious. He'll walk to
you in the pasture.
Since Buddy joined the family three years ago, we haven't had many wild turkeys come into our yard. We used to have many that would walk across our lawn and would visit the chickens in the Dot House. Some would seek the shade of the lawn under our trees during the hot days of summer. Buddy is such a good watchdog that no wild creature has much chance here so they stay away. When considering most wild life around here, I'm happy for his protection. But I do miss the wild turkeys. Much to my dismay last week, I was in the kitchen and looked out the window to see a hen turkey and her two babies cross the back lawn. Then all the guineas arrived on their round about the house. Where was Buddy? Well, he missed this one, thank heavens!

The hen and chicks crossing the back yard
the turkeys are almost to the safety of the
brush; the guineas showed up too
view of garden, Dot House and cottage from
the horse pasture
This year I planted four o'clocks. It is an old fashioned flower that Mother always planted in her flower garden. I loved them as a child because the flowers opened late in the day hence the name, four o'clocks. The blossoms are in vivid hues that are particularly lovely on cloudy or foggy days.

four o'clocks just beginning to open late in
the day
I hope you are enjoying your summer. Fresh peaches are in, time for jam and pies for the freezer! Tomatoes are just beginning to ripen here. I'm sure I'll be slammed with ripe tomatoes soon but now I am longing for them as they seem to be taking their time changing to red.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Friendship Gardens

I have many beautiful plants around my yard that are meaningful to me because each time I look at them I think of my friend who shared them with me. There are so many things to love about gardening and sharing plants is one of the best because they help build Friendship Gardens.

My lovely friend, Connie, who generously welcomed and introduced me to the local community gave me Autumn Joy sedums and iris the first year we were on our little ranch. The sedums have matured and add so much softness and interest around our little cottage. They really shine in the fall and their reddish dry flower heads are spectacular in the winter snow. The iris were magnificent this year and we were delighted that the yellow ones have multiplied.

Iris blooms are short lived but are velvety and feminine and a delight to
the eye in the spring.

The sedums have a soft rose
flower head. The birds feed off
them in the fall and winter.
Below are the sedum in summer
forming the beautiful flower

JoAnn, a Master Gardener friend, gave me the hosta plants that she was thinning out of her garden. They took well and are blooming now with lovely lavender flowers. They reside in the deep shade at the front of the house and seem to get stronger every  year. (See below)

JoAnn also gave me Aptenia Confifolia or Baby Sun Rose Red which is an easy growing succulent plant that spills over outdoor pots so beautifully. I take cuttings and keep it going inside during the winter where I will occasionally get some tiny red flowers to cheer the room. I've shared it with my sister, Sandi and several friends in the area. {Aptenia cordifolia, commonly called heartleaf ice plant or baby sun rose, is a succulent, creeping, short-lived, mat-forming perennial that is native to the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It is invasive in California}

I was looking at bulbs at Home Depot one year when another customer approached me and told me that if I'd like lilies-of-the-valley, she had many that she dug out of her garden and would be happy to give them to me. That started my bed of lilies-of-the-valley. I adore them for their heartiness and sweet scent and because Mother planted them on the north side of our farm house. There they proliferated into a large bed between the house and the sidewalk and it was a favorite place to play. With an open window in the spring, the sweet scent wafted into the kitchen. Then this spring while visiting friends Pat and Chuck in Lincoln, they offered me lilies-of-the-valley they dug out of a bed they were renewing. Now I have Pat and Chuck in my garden too.

A special friend, Sue Tuttle, from high school who has become a part of my life again, recently shared a cedar and a holly tree from her garden in Kansas for the windbreak in our yard. I will always think of her when I tend them. Below is the picture of the holly and cedar before planting in the yard where they are now living happily.

And my sister, Bonnie,of North Carolina shared several plants with me but the Pasque Flower is the only one that has thrived here. The others tried but couldn't survive the dry bitter winter. The Pasque flower flourished on my kitchen counter all winter but is now blooming in the flower bed at the front of our cottage. It is South Dakota's state flower so it can handle the harsh prairie weather.

My sister-in-law, Carolyn, gifted me with a beautiful plant during our last visit. She said it was indestructible but more importantly, it is beautiful. She wasn't sure its name - do you know? It is also a succulent of some sort.

I hope you share from your garden with friends and family and accept their offerings. It is a wonderful gardening tradition, one that should be tended.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Building the Not So Big House

Some of you have mentioned that you've missed my regular posting. Point taken. I've been remiss because of a special project I have been working on and I will share a little about it today.

I have had the opportunity of a lifetime knock on my door. Our friend and neighbor, Dick P, decided to build his new home on his beautiful land near us. We were delighted that he would be a close neighbor and I couldn't wait to watch the house being built.

This is one view of our neighbors land overlooking
oak and cedar forests sheltering local wildlife,
such as deer, turkeys, quail, coyotes, bobcats,
raccoons, ducks, and an occasional elk.
Much to my surprise, he asked me to help him design his kitchen. That led to the laundry room, then the whole house. Together we created a design that fit his lifestyle and interests at only 1460 sf on the first floor and a finished basement of 1,000 sf. It is the perfect The Not So Big House.

If you are interested in architecture, building, or design, check out my favorite architect, Sarah Suzanka and her book series, The Not So Big House.

We broke ground in late May after the ground thawed. It was an exciting day.

The beginnings of the new house in late May

We spent the winter months finalizing the layout design and once that was done we began picking out the flooring, colors, fixtures, windows, doors etc. So as it turned out, we were way ahead of the game. It has been amazing to be involved in the process from the idea phase to the actual building.

Within days the forms were set for the foundation
Pouring the cement
With forms removed, it begins to look like a house

Finishing the garage floor

After the foundation was finished and set, we had several days of rain so everything on construction stalled until things dried. In June the framing begins...

The house is taking shape
Right, electrician Gene is installing the temporary
power for building. On the left is Dick the owner.

View from kitchen window. Did I mention
how beautiful his land is?
Rafters and joists going on.
View from back; right bottom window is bedroom &
left bottom window is family room; right top window
is master suite, middle is kitchen and 4 windows on
left are in living room
close to being enclosed
Enclosed and ready for shingles
In one day the shingles are on
This is the view from his living room - it's
a WOW!

The schedule is full for the coming weeks with lots to do. It seems to be moving fast now that the house is enclosed and we don't have to be concerned with rain setbacks anymore. So, as you can see, I've been busy with a very special project. I'll post again when we get more done.