Potatoes!

It has been a bust day on the Farm today: Church this morning, then LOTS of yard work this afternoon (and my first sunburn!) So, excuse the “lag” in this post, I am drugged up on benadryl!

We are prepping the house to give  it a new coat of paint in a few weeks, and so Joel has been diligently working away at getting it pressure washed. This gave me ample opportunity to make piles of junk to get rid of or throw away that have been stacked outside the past TWO YEARS from the previous owners. And, thankfully I feel like we are finally getting somewhere! Working in the yard is hard work- and not something I much enjoy- but I always feel better once it is done. The garden is a different story, however. I LOVE being out there! It is such an uplifting space. I mean, think about it! You put seeds (or if your lazy, like me, plant starts) into the ground, a little water, some sunshine and Poof! YOU ARE GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD! Amazing. As of today our garden is all planted and contains: snap peas, cauliflower, pickling cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes, onions, carrots, radishes, lettuce, green beans, broccoli, oregano, basil, and rosemary. Whew!

This year we took a different route with our potato planting, trying to see if we would get a larger crop. (Last year we planted directly into our raised beds.) They took up a lot of space, and the crop was good, but not great. I came across this idea on Pinterest, and so, last weekend we put our plan into action:

We just started with about a 4-5 foot section of weld wire and created a loop. (Cut off the bottom row, so it would poke into the ground.)

Line the bottom with straw.

Line the wire with straw as well, then shovel dirt into the middle. Going into  this I didn’t think the straw would line the wire well, and I figured it would be a chore to hold it and shovel. Not the case! The straw lined very easily and stayed right where I put it. (Very easily a one person job.)

Plant a few potatoes (eyes out!) into the dirt along the border to the straw. And, if the potatoes have more than one eyes, you can cut them in several pieces (one eye on each piece) and plant each separately.

We then lined more straw, and more dirt for a total of three levels of potato plants with two at each level. Woo hoo (12 plants in much less space!)

I will keep you updated on the Potato Progress!

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New Year’s Resolutions

You know when you have a New Year’s Resolution like working out every day, or paying off your credit card debit, or eating healthier (or blogging every week?) in January and you are really excited about it, then you look down at your calendar and your ‘To-Do’ list and you realize its JUNE and you haven’t done any of it? Yeah.. sorry, guys. Well, the good news is I am back, and hopefully (!) can get back into the swing of regular posts.

So, what have you been up to since we talked last? Lots of great things have been happening here, and some hard things, too.  First off, the Twins are getting BIG! We celebrated their first birthday in May, and boy, are they are toddlers now! Everyday they surprise me by doing something fun and new, and my Joel is constantly getting interrupted at work by me, “Guess what you daughter did today?!” We are getting closer to adoption too, so hopefully they will be the Roppo Toddlers by Christmas!

We also experienced the loss of our third pregnancy this Spring, which was hard, but I am always so grateful at what a wonderful God we have. We arrived home from the Doctor with this news, and my sweet babies were there to cuddle me and give me kisses and remind me that He definitely has a plan for our family.

We did add some more poultry to the Roppo Farm this Spring, after the Great Chicken Massacre of 2012 (I will spare you the details, but this involved several of our birds being eaten by two very large dogs, IN OUR OWN YARD.)  Three baby Welsummers joined us in April, and are now outside in the coop beginning to intermingle with the big birds. And, yes, that brings our chicken count to 12 (which in case you aren’t chicken-savvy, that brings our daily egg count to between 10-12 eggs.) We are giving a lot of eggs away, because there is no way we can eat that many (with Joel being the only true egg-eater in our house) and we are going to begin selling them locally. So, if you need eggs, please let me know, and I would be happy to distribute!

Our summer garden is up and running, too, and I am excited about a few changes we have made, but I will save that for my next update, so be sure to check back in for Adventures in Potato Farming! 

(Pictured: E and M “helping” with the farming!)

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Thankful

Over the past several months I have been struggling with changes in my life that had left me feeling relatively uneasy and out-of sorts. And, as hard as it has been at times, I am thankful because it is given me pause to rediscover the things I really think have become important to me. Becoming a Mommy to the Twins has been the biggest life and priority change I have ever experienced. It used to be that my darling husband and I could just pick up whenever and do just about anything and all we really had to think about was the dog (and maybe the chickens.) Now, I have to make plans way in advance and going anywhere for any length of time is a huge project.  Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed and I am thankful for every moment that I get with my kids, but having a quiet moment this afternoon to digest the last 6 months of our lives has left me to do some thinking. There are lots of things that I have definitely taken for granted, so, I came up with a list of 3 things I am especially thankful for this holiday season:

1. MAKING NEW FRIENDS (AND KEEPING GREAT OLD ONES)-  This year I am especially thankful for new friends (and old friends who have really worked hard to stay in my life despite all the changes.) I think I have always taken friends for granted. I have always made superficial friends relatively easily at work, or church, but I haven’t every really worked on making deeper connections with people until they initiated it. Which is so sad! How many amazing people have I missed out on knowing because I was too full of myself to push past the surface? Making real connections with people is something I am going to work hard at this upcoming year.

2. VULNERABILITY- I think women keep their pain to themselves. (Maybe men, too, but I don’t know?) I was sitting in a group of women recently, and had the opportunity to speak up about our  two miscarriages and how I believed that God had a different plan for our family than the traditional. I was amazed at the response. Most all of these women had experienced the same pain, or knew someone close who had. These women also spoke of needing connections in their lives, health problems and other traumas. This year I am thankful for vulnerability, because we all go through the same types of issues and how can we build each other up if we keep it hidden inside?

3. ENJOYING MY FAMILY- Often times I get so wrapped up in the planning for what we are doing, or the schedules, or the chores that I don’t stop to enjoy my family.

My babies! Even when they are cranky, I am so blessed to be able to experience the joy of helping them grow, I am committing to spend more time enjoying them for all their little personalities are worth (even if that means the laundry doesn’t get done right away.) Every tear, every noise and every smile is precious; I won’t ever get this time with them back.

My AMAZING husband, Joel.  *sigh*  Joel is my rock and the love of my life. He might be the thing in my life I most take for granted, because he is always there to catch me when I stumble.  He is everything I could have ever dreamed of in a husband, and I WILL spend more time this season (and hopefully for years to come) enjoying my time with him. Even if it is a cup of tea on the couch after a long day (or working to complete the 31 Day Challenge.)  🙂

And finally, my parents and my siblings. Over the last several years I have really been able to form friendships with my parents that are beyond what I had ever expected, they are wonderful people and I am so blessed to have them as my friends as well. I LOVE YOU BOTH VERY MUCH.                                                                                                                                                My brothers and sisters are all younger than I, and I think watching them grow up and become real people has been such a blessing. It seems like just yesterday you were all toddling about, and now you are almost all adults. I want to form relationships with all of you that goes beyond siblings to real deep friendships, and I commit to you moving forward that I am going to work hard to form and maintain those.

My life is filled with so many blessings and after rereading this, my heart is full. I have so very many things to be thankful for, it almost makes that hard stuff seem unimportant. I hope you all have a great holiday season, and I will be back you after the holidays!

Abbie

“Resting” time

Gosh, you would think we fell off the earth here at the Roppo Farm. Not the case, just fell into the change of life called parenting! M and E are 6 months old now (where did the time go!?) and fun as can be. They are getting big: E weighing in at 18lbs 8oz, and little M at 13lbs 3oz. We are having lots of fun, but our lives have definitely changed. Going out to eat, or going to have a beer with friends is now a thing of the past, as we are elbow deep in vomit, diaper changes and rice cereal. I have had a few people ask if we miss the “old life” and I do sometimes, but I wouldn’t change the immense blessings we have now for anything. I am now staying home full-time being a mommy and managing our house, and let me tell you what: this job is harder that any job I have ever had outside my house. Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who pulls more than his fair share, has infinite patience, and gives me a “time out” when I need it. I couldn’t do this without you, Joel.

Things on the farm have slowed way down. Managing two babies, plus the house and all the animals has been a huge learning experience. This season the garden has really taken a back seat to everything else, and I planted NO fall/winter veggies (the other day I realized it is definitely the middle of November already, and I have done nothing with my garden.. oops.) So, we will call it a “resting” time for the garden and I can start planning way in advance for my spring/summer garden. After our experiences last year with what grew well, didn’t, and what gave us lots of return we have decided to omit these from our next try: corn, peppers, green beans lemon cucumbers, and blueberries. All of these either didn’t produce well, took up too much space for the return or we didn’t really eat enough. We will definitely try again, though: snap peas, pickling cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, radishes, onions, ONE tomato plant (three was WAY to many last year), raspberries and apples. And, hopefully this spring I will have more time/desire to play in my garden. (Maybe the Twins will want to help my dig holes to plant..)

Many of you have asked since my post about our chicken wars, what happened?! Shortly thereafter, our Bossy Girl chicken plucked the remaining tailfeathers from our Rooster (therefore completely emasculating him) and showed herself to be the Queen of the Farm. After all that the Rooster started to be rather aggressive towards some of our baby chickens, and doing is “rooster dance” which I interpreted to be a “I am trying to make babies with you” dance. And since we have plenty of babies here on the farm, we promptly put up an ad on Craigslist offering a Welsummer Rooster Free to Good Home (or someone who was going to pretend it was a good home, and then eat him.) Later that weekend and nice girl came and picked him up to take off to her Farm. Have fun, Mr. Rooster, I hope you didn’t get eaten! So, now we are down to only 9 nice (ish) girl chickens, and more eggs than we could ever use on our own.

And lastly this morning (as I hear my little friends chatting away in their rooms, eager to wake up for breakfast) welcome the newest addition to the Roppo Farm: Lucy!  Lucy is coming to live with us all the way from North Dakota where she was rescued by my brother and his sweetie, Sara. We are happy to have her here (although, Colby is still a bit nervous) and I think she will make a sweet addition to the Farm!

Harvest!

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Our first real round of yummy veggies: snap peas, cucumbers, carrots, eggs, potatoes and lettuce!

Cucumbers

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I have been PATIENTLY waiting on my cucumbers. Counting the days and watching the little blooms.. and the time is here! Delicious cucumbers here we come!

Jealously is a Green-Eyed Monster!

I like to drive down 78th Street in Vancouver. Not because it is a particularly pretty street, and not because that part of town is particularly nice. But because on 78th Street is a house with the most amazing, majestic garden I have ever seen!  There are 8-10 rectangles probably 20 feet wide by 100 feet long of green, luscious, healthy, beautiful garden! Aaahhhh.  I almost want to stop and introduce myself and tell them how amazing their garden is, but instead I just lust from the street and dream of a day when I can dedicate my whole yard to a giant garden.  Don’t get me wrong, I have thought about turning my entire fenced yard into a vegetable-growing wonderland, but then the tiny logical voice in the back of my head says, “What about reselling the house in 5 years? Or where will the children play and the dog run and the chickens scratch?” Stupid logic, always getting in the way of my dreams.

A month or so ago we had our sweet, wonderful, little chicken friends decide that they thought our garden was a great place to snack, eating several of our huge potato plants. Luckily with a little watering, some sunshine (and a large fence to keep the chickens out ) we have revived the potatoes and they are doing as well as ever. While the chickens did manage to keep the nasty bugs out, I think we risked too much allowing them free reign. Besides, we now have a resident Garden-Frog named Walter who resides in whatever leafy greens he fancys that particular day, and who knows what those chickens might do to him!

Speaking of our lovely chickens, we now have a full on turf war on our hands. In this corner: our “big Bertha,” mean, cranky, lady- hen, who thinks she is the boss of everyone (including Colby.) See how puffed up and anrgy she looks?  That is pretty much how she looks all the time.

And, in that corner:  Our “newbie”, loudest, and only man-chicken on the farm, Rooster.  He walks around this place thinking he is the big cheese, (definitely strutting for the ladies), and apparently doesn’t like it when they talk back.

The Hen has been the boss since essentially Day 1 of living here at the Roppo Farm.  Well, it wasn’t until (oops!) we ended up with a Rooster in our second batch of chicks that her reign had ever been challenged.  And now it is war here on the Farm.  When Rooster isn’t looking, Hen will sneak up behind him and pull out his pretty, long tail feathers..  notice in the picture how he only has 2 left?  Yeah, that isn’t normal. He used to have a huge, beautiful, bushy tail and now.. poor, sad Rooster. And in payback? He sneaks up behind her and knocks her down, and then pecks the top of her head!  What a sight it is!  Who will win this epic battle on the Roppo Farm?  Only time will tell!