Two more months slip away


(WordPress has been wonky so it took me a WEEK to get this posted).

February turned out to be pretty busy. We got some solid work finished on the house.  The porch is now screened (thank goodness). It looks SO much better.  We need a door still but hey, improvement is improvement.

Hunter is working on a shelter for a shop. We (he) considered a lot of different routes there and even considered borrowing money to do a rent-to-own thing. But, in the end, we (he) decided to keep the container he uses now and then build a shed of sorts around that. So, he got the roof up and on and he’s used some leftover retaining wall blocks from a job to put a retaining wall in so he can get the floor level. Next will be adding more dirt, gravel and then concrete. This summer, he wants to put walls up and a door so he can close it in.  Then he’ll have a nice, dry place to work and a place to put all his tools. It’s been on our “plan” since we moved and was on the list from the other house. It’s time for him to have a place to work that is his I think. He deserves it.

In the middle of all the shop progress, we also hope to get a small coop built and get ourselves some chickens again. I’m pretty excited about that. Our plan is 8-10 layers and then 10-12 meat birds. We’re gonna do it. Try the meat birds thing. I’m a little apprehensive about it but it is worth a shot. Growing our own just makes sense.

As far as a garden, I just don’t know where we can put one so I guess I’ll take the leftovers from my family’s produce business when they have it. I do plan to put a few peppers in somewhere though and I’d love to do some green bean tepees and try a potato box. Just for the fun of it. I also need to add some new herb plants this year. I would like to figure out a nice permanent place for the perennial herbs like the rosemary, chives and more oregano. That would give me more room in my galvanized pot garden. There’s this little gully that runs the top of the backyard. It’s mostly for drainage but I am thinking that I might be able to plant along the banks of that. Or build some beds that come out from it a bit. I don’t know.

March is almost over already and we’re completely out of firewood. You’d think, being in Georgia, it would start being warmer at night but not so much. As much as I love a fire, I’m ready for spring. (And hoping we can afford a furnace so the ugly window AC units don’t have to go back in. I truly hate them. They block so much light).

Baseball has started (and t-ball) so we spend 2-4 nights a week at baseball. It’s madness and the sheer coordination astounds me. 26 ball games between March 18 and May 9.  Madness.

Life rages on. I do promise to try to get some pictures of the screened porch. I took them. I Just haven’t downloaded them from my camera yet. Who has time?!?


Growing Garlic from Grocery Store Bulbs: A gardening experiment

Just before the first frost hit (back in early fall), I decided on a whim to do a quick test on growing garlic from grocery store bulbs.

And I mean quick! I was in the middle of prepping dinner when it occurred to me that it was the perfect time to try this in Georgia so I jerked 4 cloves off of the garlic bulb I was using and ran outside. I cleared my herb pot (a huge galvanized pot) of debris and pulled any dead plants out. I had my kitchen shears so I trimmed the chives back and then used a little shovel I use to plant flowers to loosen the soil up real well.

I stuck the cloves with the root side down (pointy side up) and covered it with soil. Then I grabbed leaves off the ground around the pot and tossed those on top.

I went back inside, washed my hands, got dinner going and forgot about them.

A few weeks later I went out to play with the dog and remembered them. I was surprised to find that I had greens shoots!

I went out today to check on them and here they are:


I’ll be honest, I didn’t think they would come up at all. To say that I’m surprised and a little giddy about them growing working is an understatement. According to our Extension Service, if the bulbs do actually form, they’ll be ready for harvest in early summer. Some sources say that store-bought garlic won’t work. And it may not produce large bulbs at all.

I can’t wait to see if this basically free experiment works. I’ve read several articles recommending planting in the late fall underneath shrubs. I keep saying I’m going to try it but I always forget.

I’ll let you know this summer…if I don’t forget them! :)


Things around here are always prioritized…into steps and phases.

Rush to get this house liveable one year ago. Check.

Rush to get yard cleaned up a bit after we move in. Check

Rush to get pine trees cut down before major storm comes through and the leaning ones crash into our “new” house. Check.

Repair this. Fix this. Rig this. Figure out why that is leaking. Check. Check. Check.

Hunter and I are project people. We are. But, sometimes I wonder if this house that I grew up in (and now live in) is trying to drive us to madness.

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Our living room about one year, 4 months ago. Just before we moved in.

There’s always something to do, to fix, to make better. It was in disrepair for so long. We all just ignored it. But when we needed a place to live, it was our saving grace. We poured the pennies we had into making it a place we could live, safely, with less stress and give ourselves time to recover from what had been a terrible few years financially, emotionally, and physically. We are total DIYers on this. The only thing we hired out was having a friend who is an electrician come swap out some outlet for a different one for the dryer and to check all the outlets and such. Hunter has amazed me with his ability to figure things out and put this house back together. Because, yall, at one point, the kitchen had a giant hole in the floor and he was standing in the crawl space and the kitchen at the same time putting it all back together. He’s an amazing hard worker and has rebuilt our home into a safe place to live.

But after we got moved in and settled, well, we rested. We just lived here. We let everything stay as it was unless we absolutely had to do it. We just needed to rest.  t took a year and a half of hard work (mostly on Hunter’s part as I worked full time and was pregnant for much of the time) to get the house back to a liveable status before we moved in. We were home improvement burn-outs.

For about six months now, we’ve slowly been finishing things out though. Which is a nice, refreshing change.  Some successes:

We finished baseboards in the kitchen and some finish trim around the upper cabinets. Oh and that stuff that goes under the cabinet to finish it? Toe kick stuff? Floor trim? Not sure what it’s called. We still need quarter round but oh, it looks better.

We put flooring in our closet (it was sub-floor before that…the other closets still are). Dust is SO much less.

I bought a bamboo blind for our bedroom window (just a sheer curtain before that). It will definitely help in the summer with cooling.

I started touching up ceilings (crappy painters, we are). I hate ceilings. And popcorn ceilings. And ceilings.

We bought a built in dishwasher. STOP THE WORLD.  I’ve used a portable for 10 years. This is like a whole new world. I love, love, love it. The not dragging a dishwasher over because the wheels don’t roll right. The not having to move it back in the morning. The dishes that have to be washed basically before the dishwasher because the water pressure just isn’t enough….this dishwasher is glorious.

I slipcovered our chair. Ugh. We won’t talk about how nasty it looks even though we had it cleaned prior to Rhett coming. Never buy a fabric couch or chair. Just buy leather. Seriously. It’s on my “dream list.”

So it is all coming together. Slowly but surely. Right now, we have a few projects going on:

Hunter is building a shop. He’s been using a container (one of those shipping containers…like this). We were going to take on a bit of debt and buy a building but he decided he could built on to what we have and make it what he wanted for less money. I’ll try to get some pictures this week. It’s a slow and steady project.

I’m slipcovering the couch. Nothing fancy. Just drop cloths for the fabric. And there won’t be a tutorial because I am winging it. It’s not perfect. Pin. Cut. Pin. Trim. Sew. Fit it. Add next pieces. repeat. I have the cushions left to do.

We still don’t have doors on our upper kitchen cabinets but I am working on them. I polyed some this weekend and stained others. Of course, the ones I stained look darker so…I may have a redo there. I am supposed to work on the remaining ones on Wednesday but it’s supposed to rain so we’ll see. And I need to decide if I want to leave the hardware as is or spray paint it. Some is in pretty bad shape.

Once we have some progress on the shop, Hunter is going to try to get the coop built for me. It too won’t be fancy and will be done as cheaply as possible. One thing we’ve learned these past few years is to do with what we have, when we can. Financial ruin can do that to you. :)

We also have a porch to screen. I’m supposed to be pulling old staples out.  Supposed to be. Screening won’t take long when we have time. And it’ll make the outside look better.

There’s also a back deck to be built. We have back door and a 3 foot drop. Worse case scenario, a set of stairs but we’re hoping for a small deck.

We have landscaping that we want to do and a row of screening trees to install. Living in town again is new and different. Living in the small town where you grew up where everyone knows your business and your family mostly all lives on the same street…its….challenging. We’re working on it.

There’s a lot more we want to do like repair damaged siding, treat the beetle issue we have going in the crawl space, install a heating and cooling system (because right now, we use a wood stove mostly, a propane stove in the dining room as a supplement and 3 space heaters in bedrooms as needed, ugly window units in the summer), paint the house that hasn’t been painted in 34 years, replace the hollowed out porch rails (thank you carpenter bees), redo  the sloped sidewalk, put in more gravel in both drives….but its all “plans.” We’ve learned that plans go by the wayside and that we just have to roll with the punches. And the funding. We prioritize, shift our priorities, balance things out, change our minds, and end up using the money somewhere else for something more important. But in the end, its the right place and a good decision.

But progress is a beautiful thing and we’re having a good time watching it all come together into something that is just right for our family.

Bird Brained Plans: Raising Our Own Meat and Egg birds

When we moved last year, we came to our new home with no chickens. The summer before we moved, I accidently ran our four wheeler into the coop and the wire detached from the wood. Despite rigging up a fix for it, the hens got out and it wasn’t long before they disappeared (I’m still not convinced our neighbor didn’t catch them and keep them).

So for the last year and a half, we’ve been without birds. At first we were ok with that because moving into this house, settling in and then trying to finish some home projects just ate up all our time. But over the past couple of months, we’ve been talking about getting hens again. We’re missing our fresh eggs.

The big deal with this is that we’re also considering getting some meat birds to process ourselves. That part makes me nervous. I’ve never killed a chicken before (or anything else) even though I spent four years working for a poultry research company. But part of me knows that if I am going to eat chicken, I ought to be able to handle the processing part. Hunter has said he will kill them if I can help with the rest of the process which I can do. Once its dead, it really doesn’t bother me all that much honestly. It’s the killing that bothers me.

But we’re going to do it because we still believe that growing our own meat is better for us. We know what the birds will eat, how they lived and how they were cleaned, handled and processed. And its one less thing we buy conventionally. It won’t be any cheaper but we’ll have grown it ourselves.

Processing our own meat isn’t new to us. Over the years, Hunter slowly took the steps to process all of his own deer. The only deer we’ve paid to process in a few years has been in order to get cube steak but this year, we purchased a cuber at the end of the year for next season. Next year, that should pay for itself. I’ll talk more about processing our own deer later.

We will probably order from McMurray Hatchery this time since we want a larger quantity. McMurray offers a package called the “Meat-N- Egg Combo” for around $60 that we are leaning toward. The package comes with 10 hens and 15 meat birds. It seems like a good way to get back into chickens. As much as I want the ability to choose specific breeds, for this first batch, just getting some layers to start and some meat birds to try will be ok. The meat birds will be either Cornish X Rocks or Cornish Roasters and the layers would be an assortment from the Rainbow or Brown laying hens which means we might end up with white eggs as well. It doesn’t really matter to me right now. The meat birds would be ready to harvest in 7-10 weeks.


Original images from Flickr: Rhode Island Reds by nessamarie, Buff Orpington by srte and Araucan by Will Merydyth, Red Rangers and Cornish X images via McMurray Hatchery website.

In a perfect world, I would get a mix of Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, and Red or Black Stars for layers. I’ve also heard really good things about Red Ranger meat birds but they aren’t offered as part of this package since they are new to McMurray. Maybe later though.

The plan right now is to start with the 25 birds (McMurray requires a 25 bird minimum for orders placed until April) that we’ll try to order and receive in February/March, depending on when we can get our coop done. Then, once we do our first batch of meat birds and process them, we could place a smaller order for more birds when we’re ready (order minimum is 15 after April) for more layers or meat birds.

We’ve also decided to try a different watering system using “chicken nipples” (God knows what kind of its I’ll get from that) instead of the traditional hanging waterers because 1. they’re a pain, 2. they freeze in the winter and 3, they get nasty quickly. We still have a hanging waterer to use as a back up or supplement however.

Even the kids are ready to get birds again. We all miss the fantastic tasting eggs! The boys even said we could use the giant box my cousin’s husband brought us (that we were going to turn into a barn of sorts for them) for the nesting boxes. Isn’t that precious? Most importantly, they are a part of our raising our own meat and understanding the food cycle. They’re learning that they can do this too and when they’re older, they’ll hopefully find themselves in a sustainable lifestyle that they find as satisfying as we are.

And needless to say, I’m pretty darn excited about getting chick babies again!


Just another week in paradise

This week has been tough.  I’m sure that came through loud and clear.  I can’t say that I’m not glad to see it go.

Part of my craptastic week was Wednesday. Oh Wednesday. On this glorious Wednesday, I finally kept the appointment I’d been cancelling for three months and went to the endodontist.  In late October, I had some fillings done because I have the worst teeth known to man. And I hate going to the dentist but I drag myself there every six months.  Anyway, after the fillings, it still really bothered me.  Bothered me to the point that I couldn’t eat on that side. It was all pressure related.  It didn’t hurt when I didn’t use it and it didn’t interfere with life. I just ate on the other side. They tried adjusting my feelings numerous times but nothing helped so they wanted me to see a specialist.

I knew what that meant…

Even filters can't improve my dislike of this place. Root canal is about to start. Let the crying commence. #bigfatbabyatdentist

But, I kept the appointment. And…I had to have a root canal.  Ugh.

I can’t say this is my first one. It’s my fourth and it sucks. Every time.  But this guy was a new doctor for me and he used different tools so it’s a one shot deal.  Hopefully.  In the past, I had to go back 2-3 times so they could open it up, clean it out more, repack it and re-close it.  Just a nightmare.

So, I’m sore and hurting a bit. Definitely sore.  But it should be fading pretty soon and will get back to normal.  I’ll have to get a crown in about a month.  Good times all around.

It’s dreary and rainy and this sort of luke-warm gross outside. I’m thinking the night calls for homemade pizza, popcorn and hot chocolate alongside some family movie time.  I am heartedly proclaiming Thank Goodness It’s Friday!