Saturday, July 14, 2012

The beauty of 3 generations

catching tadpoles after the photo shoot
My friend Loriann and her husband Donald invited me back to do some photos of their family with Loriann's parents while they were in town.  It's lovely to see the pieces of Loriann and her kids in the eyes of these elders of the family.  "Look at Loriann getting all sparkly," Donald remarked as she beamed while getting photographed with her parents.  It is good to see this kind of connection in a family and was great fun to capture those twinkly eyes.

grandma, grandpa and the grandkids
the whole clan

all the girls

They wanted a picture like this because they did this in some of their wedding pictures!
a great couple
at the pond
my Maia had tagged along

As a mother hen gathers her chicks...

"I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. . . . He will cover you with His feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge."  Psalm 91:2, 4

It has been a sweet thing to watch our momma chicken protect, nurture and teach her babies.  She incubated them for 21 days, rarely moving from her nest.  As they hatched, they peeped to her and she clucked reassuringly back to them.  They emerged from their shells into the protection of her warm feathers.  When they were ready to venture out, she surveyed every situation, calling them back to her if danger was near.  

She taught them to look for food and kept them warm until they had warm feathers of their own.  She was probably uncomfortable much of the time, not ever actually sitting, but always adjusting herself so that she covered each chick.  She taught her babies how to roost way up high once they had the right feathers to flap their wings and perch.  This way, when they one day go out on their own, they will always have a way to stay safe from harm.  They still tried to roost beneath her for a while, but soon they were too big.  Everyone jostled for the closest spot to mom, with one always taking the premium spot on her back!  

I've finally come to terms with our decision to have our two oldest children attend the local public middle school after homeschooling and doing co-ops all of their early years.  It will be a challenging transition, but it looks as if they're growing too big to stay beneath my wings all the time.  It's time to allow them to venture out, to see the big wide world, knowing that they still have their family to come home to at the end of the day.  

I am excited to hear about the things they experience in their new learning environment.   Like the momma hen and her chicks, they know they will always have the refuge and shelter of our home and family to run to when things get difficult.  I know they will grow in this and so will I, experiencing the ever-changing nature of life. 

trying to figure out how to get way up there

In the younger days when they still fit beneath her

reminds me of when I try to sit on the couch...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thunder and Lightning!

Today we had some good old fashioned midwestern U.S. style thunder and lightning.  The rumbles were so deep, they seemed to shake the house and to resonate inside my head.  Lightning flashed all day, knocking out our electricity with its force.

I saw my first lightning bolt since forever when driving home from taking a meal to a friend.  The pure whiteness of it startled me.  In Hawaii, where I grew up, the lightning we experienced was more akin to someone switching a light on and off quickly, so I am not actually sure if I've ever seen textbook lightning!

As if all of this visual and audio displaying wasn't enough, random showers of huge raindrops pummeled the house and garden.  I think the way they landed and splashed on my deck sums up the exuberant impressiveness of the weather today.

I love how the rain made a tiny sea on my railing

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What's new in the zoo

Saraiah and I planted our last batches of carrots; some golden, some red and some short and stubby and french.

Some parts of the garden have been slower to mature this season, while others have bolted towards flowering much sooner than we would have liked. The weather this year was typical of the Pacific Northwest in its oddness, with May having some very hot days that required us to water the garden and then June being filled with days and days of downpours. Finally, and faithfully, summer arrived on July 4, and we were shading our eyes from the sun to watch the fourth of July parade in town.

The carrots and beets we overwintered last year didn't perform quite as I thought they should. I think we planted them too late in the season. From what I've been reading in Eliot Coleman's "Four Season Harvest," you plant for a winter garden early enough that the growing happens before the really cold weather sets in and you just prevent the chill from killing the plants. My carrots from last year started to flower before they were bigger than my pointer finger, so I am sure I planted them too late. The beets started to flower when they were only 2-3 inches around, so this year I am planting earlier to see if I can prevent that issue. We have some leeks that I am putting in: it says on the package that they take 230 days if you plant in late summer. WOW! I have never grown leeks. This should be interesting.

After the heavy rains of June, we returned from a trip to the Oregon coast to find that the garlic that wasn't buried as deeply had begun to split, with individual cloves trying to grow their own stalk. The ones that were buried deeper, or maybe planted later didn't have this problem. I don't know if it's the depth of planting, level of fertilization (I put lots of coffee grounds on the splitting ones) or the radical weather changes from hot to wet to hot. I plan to read up on garlic before I plant this fall. I will plant the heads that were larger and didn't split.

The Tom Thumb heirloom lettuce I planted was too low to the ground to do well in the early spring wetness. I plan to plant that in late spring next year. Half of the June strawberries we worked so carefully to keep weeded rotted on the ground in the wetness. I plan to get some everbearing strawberries to prevent this problem. I will also thin the suckers that have spread, replanting them in mounds together so that they are easier to weed and will drain better.

The onions were ready to be planted out too early. I will start my onions much later indoors next year and maybe in a different medium. Too many of them dampened off. I'm so thankful that we are transitioning to more of a year-round garden, so that the stressful push of spring planting and summer harvest and preservation can be spread out. It has been really enjoyable to see the gradual progression of ripening, having eaten the first early carrots and new peas, kale, chives and garlic in stir fry. I decided that this year I will probably only save seed from our Hawaiian daikon radish, some heirloom lettuces, some heirloom tomatoes and I will save some heirloom onions to allow to go to seed next year, as they are biennials.

It's a beautiful thing to grow a garden, to be out in the world God created, marveling at the simple stages each plant moves through so unfailingly. Growing a garden helps me to see the natural succession of the stages of growth and fruiting of the wild plants and I gain a deeper understanding of the world that is all around us, and I in turn feel more a part of it. It is a unique thing, to bring an plant from its beginning stages all the way to its end and to be a part of this process of bringing nourishment to our bodies, minds and even our hearts.

Lilies are blooming in all their splendor 

I love how the leaves of the motherwort are arranged like little insect legs, one set right above the other

This is the kind of shot I get of my tomatoes when I stick the camera inside the mini greenhouse, then get distracted talking to my inlaws.  The tomatoes are growing big and healthy.  I am so excited, given the failures I had with my seedlings.  My brother and my friend gave me some of their plants, and those are the big ones, but even my pathetic ones caught up and are flowering happily.
bachelor's amazing that I've gone my whole life not noticing this flower until last year
The poppy seed pods are ripening

Poppy pods in love
Pea tendrils
Check out her feet !  This little chicken is like an owl!
Our baby chickens are growing up.  Their momma has taught them to roost.  They roost under her wing, beneath her and even on her back!
I keep tossing these guys far from the garden.  That way it takes them a few days to get back in.
pretty white flowers growing in the wet part of the pasture
calling in the goaties!
mom and baby
getting ready to talk to us

pea blossoms 
more peas
pea tendrils
pole beans growing up the alder teepee
Maia planting a few replacement beans reminds me of that Dixie Chicks song: "I said I wanna touch the earth, I wanna break it in my hands,.  I wanna grow something wild and unruly...."
Our peas are about 6 feet tall!
pole bean teepee with pumpkins planted beneath
carrot seeds
dancing in the garden

Heirloom tomatoes grown lovingly from seed by a dear friend.  Their flowers are fancier than the ones of my Roma tomatoes
I think red cabbage, rainbow chard and peas are the most beautiful things we grow in our veggie garden