Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First look...

Well, not mine, because I've been ultrasounding myself regularly since 6 weeks. But yours! Here he/she is, The Bean, at 19 weeks: bean1

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Building a garden: the first years

When we bought our house 3 summers ago, with its 3.75 acres of theoretically usable land, we were excited to have space to learn to grow our own food. This has not been easy. We face three major challenges:
1) a short growing season, with the average last frost date around June 1 and average first frost around October 1--that's just 120 days to grow in;
2) a lot of trees on our property, so that except in midsummer there are few plots of ground that receive more than 6 or 7 hours of sun; and
3) many resident deer, who happily eat pretty much everything we do. Well, hey, we also have lots of rabbits and gophers, but we haven't had a chance to notice their effects since the deer don't leave them much.

We will be learning how to work around #1 and #2 as long as we're here, but the answer to #3 is pretty straightforward--we have to fence our garden.

In 2009 we got permission to place some tomatoes in containers on the property as soon as we entered escrow, around June 1. Since we didn't live there yet, we put the tomatoes on a corner of the lawn where they'd be watered by the automatic sprinklers. The fence was a simple ring of wire:

fawns and tomates on lawn

After moving in, we moved the containers and fence off the lawn so we could water the tomatoes more optimally:

deer family + tomatoes

After a few weeks, we realized that it was easy for the deer to reach through or over the little fence and nibble on the plants, so we widened it:

deer family + wide tomato fence

This was our first time growing tomatoes and we made the mistake of choosing four yummy-sounding heirlooms that all matured slowly. Finally, in mid-September, we excitedly harvested our first two tomatoes--multicolored and very tasty Ananas Noir:

ananas noir

A few days later, we enjoyed two lovely Black Krims:

Black Krim 2009

AAAAAND the day after that, the deer jumped into our little enclosure we had naively thought too small for them to attempt, and stripped the plants. Thus ended our garden experiment, year one.

I have no pictures of our garden in 2010, but we were much more successful. We used a double ring of 4-foot deer mesh this year, which effectively kept the poachers at bay, and harvested quite a number of Early Girls and Sun Golds, as well as a few heirlooms and some lemon cucumbers... we were eager to see our results next year, when we'd build a real fence and grow more crops!

To be continued...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter treats

Our Easter festivities this year were woefully minimal, in part because it looked likely until the last minute that Bubba and Carson would be out of town that weekend. As it turned out, we were all together. But the most I can say for Easter 2012 is that we all made it to church (this nearly didn't happen because I had an emergency call Sunday morning), we enjoyed having a friend for dinner, and I made Rainbow Jello. Next year I hope there will be more substance to our observation of this most joyful holiday... but at least the jello was bright.

2012Apr 032

My mother has made layered jello in the past, but what got me inspired to try it this year was a photo I saw on Pinterest from this blog: Rainbow Easter Eggs. A "craft" and fun food that I can actually manage!, I thought. And I went and ordered some egg molds.

2012Apr 016

There was no purple jello at my local grocery store, and I could only get blue in the large box. So I got 5 large boxes and decided to make a ring mold also. The process took about 4 hours in all, and required a surprising amount of math... but I thought the results were worth it! Maybe Rainbow Eggs will become an Easter tradition at our house.

2012Apr 026

2012Apr 033

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Along the Sacramento

Redding is the closest actual city to Mount Shasta, at 60 miles away and around 90,000 residents. It has most of the necessary amenities, but isn't exactly a cultural center. It's known for pretty much two things: 1) staying really hot for most of the year, and 2) the Sundial Bridge. I appreciate Redding most in February and March, when it's likely to have beautiful spring weather (not too hot yet) while we up in the mountains are still slogging through winter. On such spring escape trips, the Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River and in fact the entire 16-mile Sacramento River Trail make a great stroller-friendly destination.

Our latest escape to Redding was in early March. We had a couple of errands to do in town, and afterward we walked from the mall to the Sundial Bridge and back. I don't necessarily recommend this stretch of the trail, as it's too close to major roads too much of the time, but we still enjoyed ourselves along the way. Carson devoured his first Push-Up frozen treat, and I bared my arms for the first time in months. We moved pretty slowly because there was so much for a two-year-old to investigate...

Rubble to climb:
climb rubble sac riv 3-12

Flowers to marvel at (in Mount Shasta these were still a couple of months away):
flowers sac river 3-12

Rocks to throw in the river:
rocks sac river 3-12 crop

sac river 3-12

And of course the bridge itself. Carson LOVES bridges. This one is really big AND has cables to climb, which makes it extra fun.

climb sundial cable 3-12

sundial cable 3-12

sundial cable gymnastics2 3-12

climb sundial 3-12

climb sundial2 3-12