Monday, March 28, 2011

Birdhouse project...

Since the title of the post is birds, bees, berries, and blooms, I figure I had better talk about birds at some point.  Here is an easy project for our feathered friends. 
    I love doing projects using the resources around me.  With 20 acres of aspen, birch, oak, and pines, I have lots of natural resources.  One project I enjoyed this summer involved making birdhouses out of downed aspen trees.  There are several aspen trees on the ground around our home.  Many were at one time bird houses.  I stress I used trees that had fallen over.  I don't what anyone to think I was cutting down little bird homes. 
     First, I cut above and below the holes.  I then scraped off the bark and sanded the outside to show off the worm galleries.  Some didn't need a top and bottom, but most did.  I stained the outside to slow deterioration and  reused some old wire we found on the property as hangers.  We love to shed hunt for antlers and I used the smaller ones as decorative perches. 
Beginning, middle, and final project.
      It was a fun project and they make great gifts.  When my sister came out this winter, I let my nieces each pick a birdhouse.  Then when I went to my sister's to help with the floors in the new house.  I was really excited to go with the girls to their new farm and let them pick where to put their bird houses.  It was a wonderful experience.   We spent the rest of the day checking to see if any birds have moved in. 
     If you have a few old trees on the ground I highly recommend this project.  It didn't cost a penny, but was a productive way to spend a couple of weekends and led to a great day with my nieces.

Good Lord!  Slow down Aunt Bonnie isn't that fast.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A snowy Sunday walk on snowshoes...

A romantic trail.

At least someone is enjoying the snow.

Destination achieved. Now it is time for some hot cocoa.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Flip this house...

It was a fun week at my sister's house.  If you can call hard work fun.  I helped wrangle 3 kids 5, 4, and 1, while also helping Becky finish the wood floors on the 100 year old farmhouse they bought.   I learned several things.

1.  You have to ease into 3 kids.  Three right off the bat is tough on a person.  They are great little girls with wonderful personalities, but a lot of work.  I don't know how you moms out there do it. 

The finished product.
 2.  Refinishing a wood floor is not (I repeat not) a 3 day project.  Especially when the dining room floor is covered with a black glue. 

3.  There is no accounting for other people's taste.  Blue shag carpet vs. oak hardwood floors seemed like an easy decision to me.  (This blog is late, because I was trying to get a photo of the blue shag.  It may be added later.)

4.  Doing a project like this with another person is very helpful.  Just when one person's spirits were low the other would be positive and keep the project moving forward.

5.  There is nothing more fun than rummaging around an old farm with your sister, finding all sorts of cool treasures, and letting your imaginations run wild.  I will be back and we will put some of those ideas into practice. 

Sanded floors. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Red red wine....

     What do you do when your raspberries have gone wild and you have made all the raspberry jam and chocolate raspberry jam (a pleasant experiment) you could possibly make?  You buy a wine making kit and give it a go. 
     This little project has led to many adventures.  First, I had a great time learning about wine making from my grandmother.  Second, a neighbor now thinks I'm quite the wino.  Don't ask!  It is a long story.  Let's just say don't wash all of your wine bottles leaving them on the counter to dry, rack a jug of wine, have 6 bottles of wine on your counter, and clean your basement while singing at the top of your lungs during a blizzard and think that you couldn't possibly have company. 
       Sidetracked again.  Anyway, before I go spend a week with my sister helping remodel their new home, I thought I'd better bottle some wine I've had sitting in the pantry.   I made a straight Raspberry wine before Christmas.  This is a Raspberry Honey Wine named what else, but the "Bee's Knees."  It contains 4 cups of honey, and 2 lbs. of raspberries all from our property. 
    I'm pretty excited about the small bottles.  It is just the right amount for my husband and I.  Unfortunately, I didn't get around to buying some before I bottled this batch.  The big bottles will make nice gifts. 
      My husband helps me with the process.  Our little one gallon wine making kit makes a good amount for the two of us.  It has been a fun experiment.  I'm excited that, years down the road, I will be able to use the fruit from our orchard to make both jam and wine. 
   Kelly made the absolutely perfect island the bottles are sitting on.  Yes, there is a bear in my window.  My parents got me that beautiful wood carving for Christmas.  I also have a bit of spring in my window with the African Violets, primrose, and the Amarillis is blooming for the second time. 
   Well, better go.  I need to clean the kitchen and put the wine bottles away before my neigbor shows up again:)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lets take a springtime stroll...

  Please don't think that my 3 feet of snow magically melted overnight.  These are last years spring photos.  I'm just spring dreaming and thought you might want to join me on the porch with a cup of coffee.
Let us watch the world go by.
I loved this combination.
My rose bed.
Let's take a stroll through the garden.  For anyone who would like to compare their growing season to my itty bitty one, these photos were taken June 2, 2010.  Just for laughs let me know when your tulips bloom.  

This bed looked great in 2009

My red/yellow bed.

Could use some mulch:)
This is the working end of my garden.  The compost bin, beehives, a strawberry bed on the left, a raspberry bed on the right, and herbs in the middle.   We are done with our morning stroll.  Back to the porch.  Ella was watching us the whole time.  She didn't want to come around the bee hives.  Hope you enjoyed the tour (even if it was last spring).

Little Ella a year ago.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vegetable gardens...

Happy Hope
 I couldn't hold back any longer. While in Rapid City, I bought plants at Jolly Lane and seeds at Menard's.
Plants? You ask, "Is that wise when a person still has 3 feet of snow in the yard?" Probably not, but how could I say no to an orange primrose? I've never seen an orange primrose. I have plenty of red and yellow primroses, but now I have an orange one. Hope I can keep it going for 3 more months.  I bought an African Violet in case the primrose died.  It seemed a logical thought at the time.

As for seeds, I will do a full blown veggie garden this year. A major challenge for me. I am not a vegetable gardener. Never have been. I've tried a few tomatoes with little success.  It just doesn't get that warm for that long. The photo below is an example of my tomato skills.  The parsley looks great.  I have no idea why I took that picture.  My mom is a vegetable gardener and a good one at that. She had to feed four kids, a husband, and numerous hired men. A vegetable garden was a necessity. Still she enjoyed it. She grew tomatoes, carrots, radishes, lettuce, onions, strawberries, rhubarb, peas, green beans, and tons of sweet corn. Her garden is always neatly laid out, weedless, and flourishing.

Sad Reality 
I can’t say as a kid I had much to do with the prosperity of my mom's garden. My job was to water and mulch with lawn clippings. I hated almost every moment of it. My only joy was that I always made toad houses while I watered. I buried my feet in mud mixed with straw from the strawberry bed and stayed still until it somewhat solidified. Then I carefully pulled my feet out leaving two mud shoes in the ground. The next day toads would peer out from the cool wet insides of the shoes. That was the only thing that kept me watering. I love toads.  I was not an avid vegetable gardener. The only thing I thought was worth growing was the peas. There was nothing better than fresh peas.

A Snap and Grow Greenhouse from Better Greenhouses
 Why the sudden desire to vegetable garden?  My loving husband bought me a greenhouse for Christmas! Wow!  That is a lot of pressure.  His only request... Pumpkins.  Big pumpkins.  Again no pressure there.  What do pumpkins have to do with a greenhouse?  We have a very short growing season here.  The end of May to September if I'm lucky. 

The grand plan:
My greenhouse is 6x8.  A 2x8 row on each side. 

The south side will be a 3 sisters garden: 
       Sweet corn, beans, 2 squash, 4 pumpkins and 2 zucchini.  So some cousins joined the 3 sisters garden. 
The north side will have quick crops on the bottom:
        Radishes, carrots, loose leaf lettuce, peas, spinach, and cucumbers.
There will be  a shelf above the north garden for containers: 
        Cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, green peppers, and maybe a big tomato.

Spring is around the corner?
 This will be quite an experiment and test of my gardening abilities.  I do have plans to add a drip watering system, as watering isn't high on my list of gardening tasks.  The tomatoes won't be started by me this year, as I'm sure we won't get the greenhouse up until the end of May.  I will keep you posted on the success of this new challenge.  To be honest the hardest part will just be getting the greenhouse set up.  Maybe when it is all said and done, I will find I have some of my Mom's vegetable growing talent in me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

something old is new again...

Old use.

When a friend of ours said he planned on bulldozing some of the old houses and buildings on his place, he told us we to salvage what we wanted.  Music to my ears!  I came armed with power tools, crowbars, hammers, screwdrivers, you get the idea.  I was well prepared.  One of the things I found on my salvage search was tons of old door knobs and faucet handles.  What could I do with these? 

Delphinium tamers.
 That is when I saw an article in a magazine with a creative way to use old doorknobs.  I have searched everywhere  and cannot find this magazine, so I can give credit where credit is due.   The lady in this wonderful story recommended making them into plant stakes.   It was a perfect idea.  If I can ever find that magazine I will give her full credit.  If anyone remembers seeing an article or idea like this let me know. 

My Pointer pointing to a garden stake.
I hired a welder friend of mine, Paul, to make a few for me and wow do they work great!  In the summer I use them to stake wayward perennials.  In the winter I use them to support the cages protecting my roses. The handle makes it a cinch to pull them out of the ground.  I love the decorative touch they add.

A wheel with the stake in the middle.

I added my own twist and had Paul make one with an old faucet handle. I put the stake in the center of a small wheel. I then tied strings from the holes in the handle to the spokes of the wheel (of course I didn't get a photo with the string). Another addition to her idea is curling a small piece of copper wire around the stake. I’m still working on this one. I have two beautiful brass doorknobs I’m going to try with this plan. I will keep you updated on the results.
Keeping my roses safe.