Faux’ Chickens

Concrete Chickens Around the Sheep Shed

Concrete Chickens Around the Sheep Shed

My grandmother raised chickens on a long, narrow city lot.  They were a natural  outcome for a farm girl transplanted to town.  Fresh eggs were a significant part of my grandparents’ diet and that self-sufficiency appeals to me.  But animals–pet or livestock– are not a commitment this retired couple is ready to make.  So, the concrete chickens I found at a country auction will do just fine.

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A Day in the Garden

July 7, 2016 in the garden — a morning rain followed by 83 degrees of extremely high humidity and an overcast sky threatening more showers.

Bird Bath on the Patio

Bird Bath on the Patio

  • After a rain is the best time to pull weeds.  I cleaned a small sweet pea bed that had already been harvested and re-planted it with Porcelain Doll pumpkin sprouts thinned from the pumpkin tubs.  I have a hard time throwing away any viable sprout, even though I have already planted thinned sprouts in two other places.  But then I love pumpkins and can never have too many around the barn in autumn.
  • The perennial bed includes wild flowers such as golden rod, bergamot/bee balm with a bloom like a lavender firework, and Queen Ann’s lace–the doily of the garden.
  • IM008423
  • I picked 8 cucumbers.  By next week I will have enough to make Bread & Butter pickles
  • The watermelon plants in one of my hay bales are being joined by butternut squash vines from a bordering bed.
  • Watermelon Starts

    Watermelon Starts

  • The two zucchini plants are blooming in the second bale.
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  • I checked to see if more early apples fell in the storm and picked up about 6 more = fresh apple sauce for Sunday dinner.
  • While I was in the orchard, I noticed one of the peach trees was dropping fruit.  Unfortunately I saw top fruit being attacked by Japanese beadles–they are back.  If they go for my roses again, the traps will go up.  Meanwhile we picked the peaches to allow them to ripen slowly inside in the basement fruit cellar…otherwise, they would be riddled by the bugs.
  • One day’s organic harvest from the garden.
  • Cucumbers, early apples and peaches

    Cucumbers, early apples and peaches


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Fourth of July Front Porch



The front porch of our 100-year-old-barn is newly painted letting red, white & blue pop!



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The Iconic Picket Fence

Front Picket Fence

Front Picket Fence

Be it barn or cottage, the scope of my world is defined by the white picket fence.  It represents home, family and security within its tidy confines.  But then, it does demand attention.  A white picket fence must be painted.  Another summer project done and done!


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Rhubarb Season

4 Cups Sliced Rhubarb

4 Cups Sliced Rhubarb

In memory of my grandmother, I enjoy baking rhubarb pie in spring.

Rhubarb is a tough perennial vegetable that is used like a fruit in the early spring garden.  Those who do not care for rhubarb make the case that because of its tartness, this veggie-fruit takes a lot of sugar.  Yup.  It does–but then so do lemons and limes.  Personally I love sweet/tart desserts.  But if rhubarb pie isn’t your favorite, try substituting 1 cup of ripe strawberries for the rhubarb in this pie recipe.

  • 4 c. [1″] sliced rhubarb
  • 1 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
  • Dash of salt
  • Pastry for 2-crust 9″ pie  [I like the recipe for plain pastry in the red plaid Better Homes & Garden Cookbook.]
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour and salt; let stand 15 minutes. Stir to blend filling.
  3. Line 9-inch pie plate with pastry.  Fill with rhubarb mixture.  Dot with 2 tablespoons butter.  Adjust top crust, cutting slits for escape of steam.  Seal and flute edges.  Sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake pie for 50 minutes or until thickened juices bubble through slits.  Cover pie with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes of baking if crust is becoming too brown on the edges.  Remove pies from oven when juice begins to bubble through slits in top crust.
One for now--One for later.

One for now–One for later.

When I bake pies I usually bake them two-at-a-time.  One is for now–the other goes into the freezer for whenever I need a quick dessert.

Ah, the taste of spring!



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A Ducks’ Tale



In order to find a safe place for the ducks and Canada geese to nest around our pond, my brother placed a nesting box on top of the metal grid over the overflow culvert.  It certainly kept critters like raccoons, foxes and coyotes out of the eggs, but I was worried about how the ducklings were going to get out without going into the gaping hole.  It is hard to see in the picture but there is about half a foot of grid in front of the box where the lip is.  And, if it is windy or stormy and the lake is overflowing, the current would draw in little fluffies.  Our Canada, Gracie, nested along the pond but a Mallard hen chose the box.

I recall several years ago watching a mother duck who had hatched her ducklings along the pond a few days earlier and had been introducing them to lake life.  A rain storm came up with wind.  They were at the end of the lake near the overflow and got too close to the current.  One by one I watched from my kitchen window as each duckling went through the grid and down the culvert.  The hen Mallard was hysterical, flapping back and forth in front of the grid.  Finally, she dove through the grid and down the culvert after her brood.  What a tender picture of motherhood!  I hope they all floated unhurt out the other end–under Springfield Road, under the property across the road and into the lower fork of Lick Creek.  But I was not eager to see that scenario repeated this season.

We checked on the hen periodically to see if her eggs were hatching.  Fortunately I was outside in the garden when I heard the hen quacking loudly and swimming back and forth before the box.  Sure enough, 10 ducklings were huddled together in the box and mom was trying to coax them out.  They were so frightened of me they nearly spilled out; I quickly drew back.  Mom, meanwhile, pretended to be hurt to distract me, flapping to make it look like she had a broken wing.  I called Butch, my husband, and said, “Houston, we have a problem.”  Together, we decided to take a large piece of particle board to make a bridge to the nest to give us access.  I grabbed a small box to place in front of the nest in order to catch the chicks if they scrambled out.

When Butch got on top of the grid, he decided to just scoop up one duckling at a time and launch it carefully into open water to mom.  One-by-one he lifted a soft brown and yellow peeping chick into his hand and plopped it into the water.  The first one went under but ducklings are unsinkable–it quickly bobbed to the surface and paddled to mom.  She summarily had all 10 in tow and swam off as if this were the usual order of the day.

Mom duck didn’t seem any worse for wear and all 10 chicks were happy paddlers.  I, however, was extremely relieved not to witness little chicks swept away.  Even so, we know the odds are that some of the 10 will not make it to adult duck-hood.  All the natural predators in the country ensure the survival of only the fittest.  We haven’t seen the flock in the last few days as she keeps them well-hidden and do not have the latest count.  But such is life in the country.


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