Farm Day

axel_treeOne of the things we are ‘studying’ this year, is Home Skills, and one of those Home Skills is gardening.

I remember being given a little area of the yard that was my very own when I was in about third grade. We went to the nursery, and after very carefully picking out some hot pink fuzzy looking flowers, I took them home and set about planting them. Over that summer they wilted and died, under my forgetful care, but I will never forget how much fun it was to have my own outdoor space. It also instilled a love for working in the yard in me at a young age, a little ownership goes a long way.

Our backyard is the perfect place for each of our kids to have their own space, but it will require some elbow grease. Enter Farm Day.

This book, and the photos of edible estate projects always gets me excited to start working on my yard!
edible-estates-lead0151b99c56fb04d62de20019b0._w.540_s.fit_51b99c4c74c5b6622e001864._w.540_s.fit_{all via apartment therapy}

During the summer, the backyard gets full sun. During the winter, it gets no sun. So, from fall to spring, it is a gigantic mud pit that grows mushrooms. This is not the most inviting type of place to play or work.  While the sun was still shining back there, we began our plan by planting a row of raspberries, which Elvis has been wanting for years. And while we were working, we started talking about all the different ways we could use our backyard. The kids were all very enthusiastic about having some garden space, and a fort, and room to run….so a small shred of a ‘map’ began to form. In the back of my mind was always ‘but what about the MUD?’ and, ‘but it’s so horrible and cold all winter!’. farm_day_lia_vegas

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 8.09.54 AM

{via Farm Fresh To You} I imagine a yard like this…but we have a long way to go! Maybe if we read this book:TheQuarterAcreFarm_web

{also via Farm Fresh To You}

{on a side note, in the age of internet domination, I am still thankful for the abounding resources that I would have never been able to get my hands on, even 10 years ago. We have access to never ending gardening tips, plans, ideas, inspiring stories and pictures….as long as we don’t get lost online, and get outside!}

Then we talked about having chickens. Boy was there a resounding “YES!!!” to that suggestion. So we made a deal. I would grant their chicken wishes, if they would help me prep the farm all winter. They totally agreed, and here we are. farm_day_chip_pile

After months of waiting for Chip Drop, we ended up getting a full load of wood chips from craigslist, for free. The load contained about half long pine needles, and half chips, but I am not even close to complaining, because it smells like a christmas tree farm in my yard right now. All the cousins came over and we spent a full day carting loads of chips to all the muddy areas of the yard. We put them under the swings, and on the paths…the backyard is in need of a complete overhaul anyway, so anything we didn’t love, got covered in wood chips. I am hoping this puts a damper on the mud carnage that usually occurs during fall….and winter….and spring.


Farm day was a success, we had cocoa, hot cider, pizza, sore backs, and a ton of fun.

Hoping we keep working all winter! Looking forward to chickens in the spring!

Planning an aquaponics project,



Caution! This post contains a giant Tarantula.

We were able to set up a time-lapse camera to film Harriet, our Rose Hair Tarantula, molting a couple of weeks ago. Harriet has been our family pet {one of them} for nearly 12 years, and while she has molted about six times, we have never actually seen it happen.

Since she began molting around 10pm, we put a light on her tank, and set our time-lapse up to run overnight.

Harriet eats crickets. She is a menacing predator, but once the molting process begins, she is stuck on her back. She is basically a prisoner of her exoskeleton, until she is able to shed the old one. Imagine being stuck in a pair of pants that is way too small, inching them off, a little at a time. Crickets wait for this moment. They will attack and eat a spider stuck mid molt. Because of this, I joked with Vegas that it would be horrible if our time-lapse captured the cricket attack, instead of the molting process. Just to be certain, I double checked the tank before I went to bed.

Sure enough, there were three crickets, all lined up behind a rock, just waiting. They looked like they were waiting for a good movie to start.


I ran to Vegas’s room, woke him up, and we began extracting the crickets one by one. Harriet was just frozen on her back the whole time, and I kept wondering if she had any idea of what was happening, or if she was just annoyed that her molting was being disturbed by tweezers and lights.

After we were sure she was alone in her tank, we set the light and camera back up. The resulting video is one of my favorites, ever. I love how she rubs her face at the end, as if to say ‘ew! Get it off!’ Even if you don’t like spiders, the process is amazing.

The crickets we removed from her tank were tossed out into the back yard, and I think they are pretty happy with it, they’ve been singing ever since!

Researching curriculum, Shelley