Monday, June 25, 2012

Feathering Our Nest

I realized this weekend, as irony would have it, I have begun blogging about homeschooling again at the most impractical time: the few weeks in the summer when I try to put my teaching brain on the back burner and focus on house and home.  Ever since I started running the co-op five years ago, I have found that I need to forcibly take a mental health holiday from the academic portion.  Too soon will I be ankle deep in planning the classes I teach to others there, and organizing HoneyGirl's direction and plans for her senior year.  Bear with me, folks, for the nitty, gritty homeschool posts full of teaching ideas will surely follow.

For now, I'll just blog about our home.  This year has brought some big changes here at Casa Clucker.  My son, Chanticleer, moved out.  After getting his associates degree at the community college, he joined the US Army.  As I write, he is beginning his schooling at the Defense Language School in sunny California, where he will learn Korean to later work as a cryptolinguist.    We're so proud and excited for his opportunity!

Obviously,  taking the young rooster out of the house has changed the vibe here. The energy and noise level has dropped to a comfortable hum.  Life has fallen into a simple rhythm.  I'm still up and in the office early, but I find lots more time for quiet pursuits throughout the day; something I used to have to sneak in before.  Somehow, the continued availability of quiet slots has led me to be immeasurably more productive around the house.  I'm cooking more from scratch, crafting more, reading more, and now, blogging again.  The television is rarely turned on, and I love it.  (I'll blog more about these pursuits later!)

  HoneyGirl is a quiet hen at home, so the changes suited her fine.   When she's not working , she's often writing, gaming, or doing something artistic; she enjoys sleeping in and staying up late like most teenagers would. The joy of summer is that I can let her indulge her fancies on that end. 

Big Papa Clucker has had a lot more time lately, and was a bit bored.   I was more than willing to help him with ideas for his time.  We tackled some much needed projects.  We had two large birch trees we sadly needed to cut down, as HoneyGirl was terribly allergic.  She would touch a branch and break out in red hives, let alone the sinus misery.    I must say, I felt like one bad Mother Clucker wielding a chain saw!  I am happy to report, she is amazingly allergy free since a week after they came down. 

We also had a huge 20 ft x 20 ft sand box in one corner of our yard, where our above ground pool used to sit.  I had dreams of converting it into more garden space, as well as a sitting area to enjoy the sun.   A friend had two pallets of brick pavers he was happy to give away, and the three of us laid a 12 ft by 20 ft patio.  We then had the task of removing the remaining sand, and exchanging it for good topsoil in a few areas of the house that struggled with moisture.   With the soil we removed, we created the angled bed that is now home to my beans, cantaloupe and a number of herbs.

We also created a 2ft by 20 ft bed along the back fence, where we are trying to grow grapes and arctic kiwi for the first time, as well as many potted herbs and flowers.(not shown)   We used some of the downed birch branches and twine to create supports for our beans and cukes, below.  This flows nicely into the covered concrete patio we built a few years back.

We finally have a nice place to sit and enjoy the small pond they built years ago as a Mother's Day gift.  I sit outside many mornings with coffee and my planner, watching the birds bathe in the shallow upper end.  It's a great place to read in the afternoon, and visit with friends in the evenings.  Our yard feels like it has grown up to match our family.

We also brought back our small raised bed garden in the back this year.   Last year's efforts paid off, as the year covered with plastic finally killed the running weeds we could never get a handle on in years past.  Plus, that truck load of mushroom soil did wonderful things to what we uncovered this spring.   I was nervous that the choking weed would return, so we only planted tomatoes, cukes, peppers and squash.  But I am going to add some fall crops next month, as things are looking good.

It's a wonderful feeling to have your hands in the earth.  Something about it suits my Pennsylvania Dutch breeding, as I can de-stress while being productive.   I love that even in the city, it is a happy place full of wildlife: birds, bees, butterflies, rabbits, and frogs.     I'm excited to bring in some of our harvest again,  but I must wait another few weeks.

I'd love to show you pictures of my front gardens, but alas, they have been sitting unfinished.  I weeded them well two weeks ago with full intentions to plant the whole.  When I got poison ivy for the first-time ever.  Miserable, I had no idea what it was until it spread all over my body , working it's way to my eyes.  I want to bake the man who developed prednisone a pie!

What projects have been keeping you all busy this summer?  I'd love to hear about it!

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