Wednesday, May 30, 2012

They're So Fluffy!!! -- posted by Sarah Grace

So I've FINALLY taken some pictures of the kittens! I've wanted to do this for weeks now, but they were originally too skittish to even attempt a phone shot, much less a real camera.  But now that Poppyseed moved them down to the house a few days ago, they've become quite comfortable around us (thankfully the clicking of my shutter doesn't bother them either), and I was able to take some up-close pics at playtime.

This is Harvey... named after Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face, from Batman.  Spencer and James are totally responsible for that name.

You see the kitten in the front with the orange tuft on its forehead?  TinTin.

This is Kiwi... he loves to polish our shoes.

His name is Fluffles.  Richard named him Fluffles.  Richard has "dibs" on Fluffles.

Fluffles and Kiwi wrestling on my lap.

Momma taking a nap while I babysit.

Fluffles loves to lounge on our laps.  There are way too many L's in that sentence.

We haven't named her yet, so we just call her The Little Brown One in the meantime.


Supper time.

Daddy's home!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ladybug Fun -- posted by George

Mom and Sarah go out to check the garden every morning, and they always look closely to see if everything is all right.  A few days ago, they found what they thought were clusters of what looked like ant hills on the peas and beans, but it wasn't. Ants were herding bugs called aphids, because the aphids eat the plants and produce nectar that the ants eat! So the ants collect the aphids into one place, and they pile on top of them to protect them and to milk the nectar from the aphids.

We have two organic methods of getting rid of the aphids and the ants. One is neem oil, which makes the aphids act drunk so they forget to eat and mate. The second method is to order a bag of 1,500 ladybugs!

Yesterday the whole family went out and released the ladybugs in both gardens.  Normally when you order ladybugs, some of them die during the trip.  But amazingly, all of ours LIVED!  And even though they didn't immediately start eating the aphids (they were waking up from being in the refrigerator after their trip), it sure didn't take long. I was holding the bag of ladybugs, and lots of them started crawling up my arms!

A couple of the ladybugs started to mate... so they must not ALL be ladies.

Here's the ladybug that crawled up onto my neck... even I'm getting some ladybug love!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Update To My Update -- posted by Mom

Sarah's computer issue was merely a common HP phenomenon where it gets stuck between sleep mode and off... an easy, no-charge fix.  So... thank you, Lord, for that!  Plus, we get to hear about Billy's trip to Ireland on the best Skyping laptop afterall.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Garden Update -- posted by Mom

I don't know why this picture turned out so light and dry-looking, because the garden is currently a luscious green, not the crackly brown thing we end up with in August. Maybe once this is posted and can be clicked to enlarge it'll show up better. This picture also showcases the great job James did (leading the little boys) by cutting down and stripping tall saplings to stake more awesome pinwheels from the dollar store. Oh my gosh just the sight of them spinning makes me not only psychologically cooler, but also makes me feel like I'm at some kind of crazy-fun carnival garden!

This picture shows part of the container garden we planted in food grade buckets. Most of the buckets were free from restaurants and also Walmart and Sam's bakeries. We have a couple from Lowes that are food grade which cost about $4 but we like the price of the free ones better. Plus those from the bakeries smell like butter cream icing! They smell much better than that icing tastes actually.

James and Spencer made this huge, sturdy trellis since we are growing squash, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and honeydew vertically this year. Even though I've seen videos of folks growing watermelons vertically, I chickened out and planted them to spread out in the back garden.

We mulched our garden this year by laying down wet sections of various business journals and The Wall Street Journal (from guess who), and also USA Today (from the hotel Guess Who stays at on business trips), positioning them on the sides of the rows.  Then we spread straw over them to hold them down. We're experimenting with different organic methods, and no, they no longer put metalics or toxins in the ink... perfectly safe, and it breaks down to compost fairly quickly. We had one copy of Free Times (local pinko rag found in discarded newspapers) and I'm keeping my eye on those poor beans. 


Macchiato-ing it up.


This is the vining red-stem Malabar spinach we bought at the zoo plant sale.  It's one of the few leafy greens we can grow in our hot climate during the summer.  We also have the regular green stem.

Mrs. Derrick taught us how to easily turn compost-- just let the chickens do it for you!  When all of them are in there together they scratch and dig like mad.  She said we'll have compost in a couple of weeks with this method.

Here's George, our tongue model, demonstrating how rich with pigment black violas are.  Despite the bottom picture, they don't taste bad at all-- he's just hamming it up.

John The Garden Slave can be seen slaving away.

This is a papyrus we bought at the plant sale at the zoo.  It's not edible; we just bought it for fun since we've studied it in our ancient history studies.  It is an annual here unless you bring it in during cold weather so that's why we have it in a pot.  To propagate it, you just snip off that Dr. Seuss-looking pom-pom when it bends over like in the bottom photo, and then just plop it in some water head first.

Here are some more edibles.  These are mixed impatiens with a rainbow of pigments.

Here's one of our julep gardens.  This is sweet mint, I think.  The chicken wire is to keep the cats from using the bed for a litter box.  As the plants spread, we remove the wire.  It's placed in there in removable pieces.

This is peppermint.  We also have chocolate mint, orange mint, and spearmint.  They shouldn't be planted together or they will cancel out each other's flavors.  That's why I said julep gardens, plural.  They are everywhere!  I can't find pineapple mint though... in case anybody needs a Mother's Day tip.

Many thanks to poor Sarah Grace who took the photos but also crashed her computer in the process... or better said, experienced a computer crash while dealing with my photo request.  Sally Girl, you may have my computer while Will fixes yours, or until we get you a new one if he can't. :*(  I feel just awful about it.  Maybe I should go for a stroll in my CRAZY-HAPPY PINWHEEL GARDEN!