Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Deals this Week

Two good deals out right now:

Pier One Imports is running its "weekly deals campaign" right now.  Today I picked up a really nice kitchen spoon and brush for $1.75, using a $10.00 OFF, $10.00 purchase coupon.  No string attached (none of those "provisions" you typically see on other store deals).  Both items were on sale. 

SAVED: $13.25

Staples has copy paper for .50.  My only problem with the purchase was that it was not made from recycled paper.  You do need to have a staples card and submit a rebate but it is super easy online.

SAVED:  $5.50

My first egg sale is tomorrow, I'm just hoping to defray the expense of the feed! 



Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Transport 2011

Finally we have relocated our neighbors chickens to our new coop!  It's so exciting.  I've always wanted a little flock of hennies.  There is nothing cuter than baby chicks but I wanted to rescue some chickens instead of breeding more so it worked out perfectly that my neighbors were in need of a nice spot for their six 2-year old chickens. Terri and her husband Evan and three children were transferred by the Army to Hawaii.  Terri will be in charge of a Nursing Hospital of over 300 nurses.

 I scoured the internet for chicken coop designs and ended up finding an exterior design that I liked and my husband, Anthony, took it from there.  He can build anything, and the coop is no exception.  My friend, Cindy, had a great idea to build a little porch on one end and I came up with a celestial theme based on a ceramic sun that I just moved from our old homeplace.  We still have to install one more window, hook up the gutter to a rain barrel and then I think we're finished.  The actual building of the coop began a month ago and was pretty involved but fun.  Anthony lost 7 pounds building the coop from the time he came home from work to night fall and on weekends in the blazing sun.

Given the hens were raised by children that held them and loved on them, they are very tame and accept petting and handling.  In order to not scare the chickens and to make the transport as stressless as possible, we decided to herd them into a wire dog crate luring them with blueberries.  Chickens LOVE blueberries.  We ended up making three trips, coaxing three chickens into the cage, then one, then the final two.  They all went right into their new coop and checked it out.  It took about an hour for them to figure out the ramp up to the main roosting area of the coop.  Two chickens could not figure out the second hole into the coop and remained out on the screened porch the first night.  There were no problems the second night, all went into the coop.  It's like clockwork, when the sun starts going down, the chickens make their trek to their roosts and stay there until the break of dawn.

We've had two chickens escape from their fenced area but they willingly go back in and do not stray far from their buddies and food source.  They seem to recognize me and run up to the fence gate to greet me (may be it's because of my daily lunch time food buffet tray that I take out.  A mix of chopped tomatoes and apples with a dash of ground flax, aloe vera and fresh comfrey leaves).

Our finished coop!
My desire is to treat the chickens as humanely as possible, giving them treats each day, shoveling up their poo, providing lots of dried grass and bedding in their coop, and ensuring their security from predators.  Their reward to me is to provide a little egg each day - how cool is that!  It's said that chickens are easy, well so far it's been a lot of work, but only "fun work".  With any pet, you need the time to commit to quality care, for their well being as well as yours.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Smell the Lavender

Newcomers allowed to roam freely!
Last week the Garden group of the Newcomers Club of Greater Charlottesville took a trip to a wonderful Lavender Farm!  Cars were loaded and we took off in route up through the scenic Shenandoah National Park "the back way", to Harrisonburg, Virginia.  It took about 40 minutes to arrive to our destination, White Oak Lavender Farm.

Julie, the owner, gave us a wonderful tour of the farm and Lavender fields that contain 5,000 plants.  In order to create Lavender Oil for their products they also operate an on site Distillery.  It takes the blossoms of 40 plants to fill one big pot to create a small amount of essential oil.

Nubian Goat, what a cutie.
We were all quite impressed with the care of the various farm animals; Nubian Goats, Ducks, Huge Rabbits, Horses, and Chickens.  There is a lovely pond with ducks where you can sit and mediate or just relax.  Strolling the fields and taking in the beautiful views and countryside is quite wonderful.

You can tell the owners, Julie and Rick Haushalter go to great lengths to run a quality business.  Opening your car door, the smell of Lavender is all around and once you enter the shop, you almost become numb to the smell.  Given I can't get enough of Lavender, it was very refreshing.

Drunk from the Lavender in a purple haze.
The key to keeping your Lavender plants alive is to put it in full sun on a slope, offer it good drainage (rocks in the bottom of the whole is a good addition) and cut it back in the fall so the center of the plant does not stay wet and rot over the winter.  A Lavender plant will rot quickly if allowed to sit in water.
The teacher and the student.

A pretty little wand.
Julie showed us how to make Lavender Wands.  It was quite fun and something you can do if you make the trip over when the Lavender is in bloom (it needs to be fresh to not snap the stems off).  On the ride back we were all quite sleepy (it also might have been the 95 degree temperature), proving lavenders ability to relax the body.  My little wand is tucked in my bedroom wooden wardrobe oozing lovely fragrance.


Friday, July 15, 2011

What's a Girl To Do


All Day: 
 Harris Teeter E-Vic members can download a coupon to your Vic Card from the Harris Teeter online coupon section to get $5.00 off any order $30.00 or more.  Good only 1 day only - July 16, 2011.

10 AM - 7 PM: Andre Viette's Daylily Festival.  Just a short drive West of Charlottesville and an amazing garden.  If you love plants and wine - this IS "the" festival.

Meet at 10 AM:  A Day of Painting at Wollam Gardens.  In preparation for their fall Dahlia Festival, artists can come and paint the gardens.  Located 1.5 hours north of Charlottesville.


Noon - 5PM :  More wine and flowers at Andre Viette's Festival (see Saturday entry).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trip Back Home

My beloved bungalow on Pleasant Hill in Pulaski.
Most people take vacations in the summer, well it seems that rarely happens for us.  I admire families that travel and make the effort to get away.  Last Friday, my husband and I returned to our family home in Pulaski, Virginia that had been rented for the last 18 months.  We knew there was going to be a lot of yard work and we packed up our tools and headed out.  We worked and worked and worked and worked.  It was grueling.  Anthony departed Monday driving 3 hours back to our house in Charlottesville.  Turning the corner into our driveway sat a HUGE pine tree that had toppled over during a storm (plus 5 other damaged or destroyed trees laying haphazardly all around).  I stayed back at our old house to continue working in the yard, thank goodness, I would have fainted at the sight of our beloved pine tree splayed across our driveway. 

Could it get worse?  Well, YES!

My mother joined me on Monday to help with the continuing yard work at the family home in Pulaski.  We worked until Friday to the point of exhaustion.  I did manage to see a few friends and neighbors for a quick hello.  I never seem to have enough time to enjoy friends and hike the 70 acre field.  It's so peaceful back away from traffic noise, lawn mowers, and barking dogs.  My mother is going to try and sell our family home.  It is such a sad decision but managing a large property living an hour away is never easy.  If there was a way to have my cake and eat it too, it would be to move our home and yard to Charlottesville.  I've decided that if our family home sells to never return.  The thought of my 20 years of gardening being obliterated is too much for me to handle and the chopping down of the grand Maples would make me have a breakdown. 

A lovely restored old "Tea House".
Needing a little TLC - it's FOR SALE!
The little town of Pulaski was originally named "Martin's Tank" after the Martin family.  I am a direct descendant and moved to Pulaski from Charlotte, North Carolina to get back to my roots.  A big storm blew through Pulaski a month ago and damaged many properties, most will be repaired but it was sad to see several beautiful homes that continue to degrade due to lack of caring owners.  There are positive moments, some older homes have been purchased and saved and I was happy to see that the Train Station was restored after it caught fire.  Our grand Court House nearly burned to the ground the first month when we arrived and the Train Station caught fire 20 years later when we departed.

My Pulaski Southern Magnolia,
a gift from my father in law.
Now back "home" the real work begins, finish the chicken coop (our neighbors are moving in just 9 days and we're babysitting their chickens for 2+ years) and cut up wood that is down all around. 

So much for a "summer vacation".

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