Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gravity Powered Chicken Compost

When I was determining where to put the chickens on our property it was important to me that they be in a place where they could get sun and shade.  It was also quite important that they be put in a place that allowed us to utilize our available space wisely. 

The area that we eventually chose is a steep hill.  I haven't done the math to see how steep it is but I can tell you that it was steep enough to be a pretty big pain in the ass to mow!!  Not only was this part of the yard the perfect place to put the chickens, it was ideal because we would no longer have to mow there! 

About a year into keeping chickens I was reading a blog post on Milkwood that outlined their plan to use a steep chicken run as a gravity compost set up.  I knew immediately that this would work in our run.  I pulled several downed trees from the woods and put them crossways in the coop. 

This photo is taken with me standing at the first row so that one is not shown.

The entire thing has worked great.  When I clean out the coop I leave everything in a pile at the top of the run.  Over time, the chickens scratch through it and during the normal use of the coop, the material slowly makes it's way down the run.
The logs have been in the run for almost 2 years.  Today I went to the very bottom and cleaned out the compost at that level. 
The compost was over 8 inches deep!  Now, that's not to say that it's completely composted, the top 3 inches still had small bits of straw in it.  But, for the most part, it was good to go!
The bottom level is roughly 5 ft by 5 ft.  I took 20, yes TWENTY, buckets of material from it!
This picture shows the space after it was cleared of the compost.  Our ground has a VERY heavy clay can see where I scraped down to it on the lower left hand side.  I probably could have gotten another bucket or two if I had wanted to get really nitpicky about it and scrape the entire area.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An Unhappy Garden

When you live the majority of your life in one climate and later move to a different one there are many changes to deal with. Aside from culture shock, the most significant thing that I have experienced is a disconnect from what has always been a very intrinsic awareness of seasons. Planning, seed starting, planting, fertilizing, and harvesting all happen at relatively the same time each year.

When you move to a different planting zone, all of those times change.  Over the past 10 years I've learned to compensate for that through trial and very unfortunate error.  However, this year has brought with it a challenge that I haven't faced before and the solution is going to have to be dramatic. 

My raised beds get too much sun!  Crazy talk, right?!  Impossible!'s so true!  Do you see this?  This is a VERY unhappy garden:
When you plant a garden in Zone 4, which is the zone that my people grow in, the season is short and there is a need for as much sun as possible.  When I planned this garden space I reveled in the fact that it would get full sun almost all day long.  I neglected to take into consideration that this is Zone7.  7b in fact.  It's a hot mother out there!  Full sun is not going to cut it when you're on the top of a mountain in the soul crushing heat that is an Arkansas summer!
My poor plants are paying the price for my oversight and I've been making plans to remedy that.  I knew that I'd have to replace the raised beds in the next few years because I made them with repurposed lumber that has definitely seen better days.  I'm still planning on exactly what I'm going to replace them with but I do know that they will be irrigated this time as well as having some pvc hoops that I can put a sun screen on in the hottest part of the year.  That and the addition of some fruit trees should make a huge difference.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


My friend Katie has two amazing kids and I love them like crazy!  I wanted to make them some softies and knew right away that I would do a pink bear for her little girl.  I wanted to do either a lizard or a dragon for her little guy but he couldn't choose between them so we went with both :-)

All patterns are available on Ravelry


Her son did the honors of naming each animal.  The bear is Girl Bear, the dragon is Spikes, and the Chameleon is Corndog LOL!

Girl bear looks different now than pictured because I chickened out about using the plastic eyes for a baby... She's not as cute with the crocheted eyes but definitely safer!

Monday, May 2, 2016


Dan and I LOVE the molcajete that is served at a local Mexican restaurant!  I have been wanting to try making it at home and finally bit the bullet...and I'm SO glad I did!

Molcajete is actually the name of the bowl.  It's sold as a mortar and pestle and is made from volcanic rock.  I bought two of them and if I had known how much work it would be to clean them for their initial use I would have been tempted to just make fajitas!  :-)

I'm really glad that I did it in the end though!  It was delicious and a real treat to have it in the comfort of our own home.

There are hundreds of recipes that can be prepared in the molcajete.  The one that I tried turned out so much like the restaurant version!  I found it here!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!

I'm so excited about gardening this year!  My seed addiction has gotten slightly out of hand but it's all going to be worth it once I have these guys in the ground!

These are the seeds that I have planted for the Spring:
Bulgarian Giant Leek
Red Freddy Genovese Basil
Mary Washington Asparagus
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
Precoce D'argenteuil Asparagus
Candy Roaster Squash
Devil's Ear Lettuce
White Soul Alpine Strawberry
Alexandria Alpine Strawberry
Baron Von Solemacher Alpine Strawberry
Cocozella Di Napoli Zucchini
Chocolate Cherry Tomato
Brandywine Tomato
Black Magic Kale
Lemon Cucumber
Scarlet Sage
Lemon Bergamot
Pleurisy Root
Greek Mullein
Gobo Burdock
German Chamomile
Holy Basil
Wood Betony
Purple Coneflower
Evening Primrose
Brown Flax
Lemon Balm
Stinging Nettle
Cayenne Pepper
Viper's Bugloss
Showy Milkweed
Common Milkweed
Cardinal Flower
Purple Calabash Tomato
Red Clover
Wooly Lamb's Ear
Mammoth Sunflower
Lamb's Quarter
Mexican Lamb's Quarter
Hmong Sticky Rice
Habanero Pepper
JalapeƱo Pepper
Yellow Pear Tomato
Banana Pepper
Astia Summer Squash
Yellow Crookneck Squash
Red Russian Kale
Sikkim Cucumber
Scarlet Kale
Bronze Fennel
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Thai Sweet Basil
Heirloom Breadseed Poppy

Monday, February 8, 2016


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dining Room...

We've slowly been chipping away at our dining room to-do list.'s finally done! 

You can see that the wallpaper was all 80s!  What you can't tell from this picture is that the chair rail....was installed upside down!

We removed the chair rail and the wallpaper.  Painted the walls a much richer color and did the trim in an oatmeal color rather than leaving the original wood.  Plantation blinds were a real upgrade from the previous plastic miniblinds.
The change with the greatest impact, at least in my mind, is the light fixture!  The one that was here when we moved in was oh so dated as well as being broken.
Dan replaced it with a beautiful fixture that fits our style... and works!  :-)
I'm so impressed with how many things that man knows how to do.  Not only did he replace the light fixture, he also replaced the light switch with a dimmer switch!
Please excuse the glare in this is out of control.  Anyway, the interior wall is really large and after we got it painted it was in desperate need of something.
We pulled some cigar boxes from my collection and took a road trip to a cigar store to get some more so that we could make this collage on the wall!
Even at it's worst it was one of my favorite rooms... It just has a really relaxing energy.  Now that it's far better looking I can't wait to spend more time in there with friends and family!