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Friday Favorite: Fall Color

October 17th, 2014

Every fall I am reminded of this quote:

“Mostly what’s on my mind right now are the falls colors. I go around gaping, as if I have never seen anything like it before. Perhaps I haven’t, I’m never quite sure. I could see this display every year and not grow tired of it, like seeing the flight of geese, or hearing the bird songs in spring. I remember, and that might reduce the amazement. But I don’t remember the edge–the vividness of the spectacle.”

Bernd Heinrich (A Year In The Maine Woods)

fall leaves
fall 1
walden pond 2
I never tire of the beauty this time of year, the leaf change is one of the most remarkable things during the year. It happens at the perfect time, otherwise autumn would be a very depressing time. It won’t be long until everything is brown, but until them I’ll be soaking in all the beautiful colors as much as I can. There are lots of things to love about fall, cooler temperatures, root vegetables, winter squash, etc. What I love most is the exuberance of the leaf change, I know it’s coming every year and it still takes me by surprise, like the grand finale of a fireworks show!

What’s your favorite things about fall?

Hacking Away

October 16th, 2014

Yesterday I had some serious sinus issues going on from chopping leaves, mold will do that to you sometimes. I suppose I should really wear a mask, but then I probably wouldn’t do it, so… Anyways, since my throat was burning I didn’t want to add insult to injury and make leaf mulch again, so I tackled another much needed garden chore – hacking away the GINORMOUS burning bush that covers up the window in the kitchen.
shrub 1
This shrub is a menace – literally. Burning bushes are invasive and should be removed. If you think it isn’t a problem because you don’t see any seedling in your yard don’t be fooled, birds carry the berries far and wide. Here’s a great article about the invasiveness of this thug. This beast by the house grew like crazy because the chickens love to hang out under it, thus giving it huge doses of nitrogen. It grew about four feet this summer – craziness.
shrub (1)
I spent about fifteen minutes hacking it and hauling off the branches. We’ll get out the tractor and pull the stump. Now there’s a ton of sunlight streaming in my window in the kitchen, so much better than an invasive bush. Sure, burning bushes are pretty in the fall, but not pretty enough. A blueberry bush can be just as pretty if pruned properly and you can provide berries for yourself and the birds.
shrub 2
Back in Ohio we dealt with a lot of invasive plants on our property, we worked on getting rid of one plant the entire 10 years we lived there. Here in Maine we’re lucky that this shrub is the only one. It’s always nice to get rid of invasive plants, there’s no point in risking reducing natural habitat for beauty, especially when you can find better options.

Do you have any invasives growing on your property?

Calming Chores

October 15th, 2014

‘Tis the season for mulch making once again. When the beautiful fall leaves flutter down from their places up high I get out my trusty push mower and start making mulch. It’s a calming chore, something that goes on and one but the mindless of it allows me the time to think. I mow and empty, mow and empty, mow and empty, then I push my wheelbarrow to the place in the garden I’m covering with mulch.
It’s a chore I absolutely love this time of year, it’s time consuming, but it’s rewarding. Not only do you get to see the results of your efforts this fall with beautifully mulched garden areas, but come spring there will be virtually no weeds anywhere. That allows me to spend my spring starting seeds and planting seedlings. It’s also nice to spend as many days in the garden as possible before the snow flies. I also use chopped leaves in my various coops, the chickens/ducks LOVE them and it saves me purchasing litter at the feed store.

Do you use fall leaves as mulch in the garden? 

Sweet Littles

October 14th, 2014

Our guinea hen has been doing a great job rearing her littles. We haven’t had much luck letting them raise their own in the past, this year maybe she’s just more mature. I let her sit on 5 eggs and she hatched out three. Watching her teach her littles how be guineas is such a beautiful thing.
babies 1
Just last week they were finally big enough to not need brooding any more, these photos were from the week before. I love seeing the babies snuggle under mom to warm up on a chilly fall day. After they’re warm, they pop out and away they go, searching for delicious things to eat.
babies 2
Keeping fowl has many benefits besides eggs and insect control, it’s amazing learning experience. We often don’t get to see wild birds raise their young, I find that watching this process is one of my favorite things about keeping birds.

Have you ever been lucky enough to watch a bird raise a clutch from egg to fledge?

The Curse Rears Up Again

October 13th, 2014

It’s been a LONG time since we’ve done a major home improvement project, for a few different reasons. One, we simply don’t have much time. Two, we’re undecided as to what exactly is going to happen here. Three, did I mention we just don’t have much time? Four, there is what we call the “Morris Curse” in that projects always take five times as long as you think and cost ten times as much. That being said we’ve been wanting to get our oven hood vented to the outside for a long time. Venting the hood outside is extremely important for indoor air quality. Cooking produces fumes that are not good to breathe, so if you’re cooking, have that vent going! Don’t worry about losing heat, worry about getting pneumonia, stroke, ischaemic heart disease, COPD and lung cancer if you don’t vent it outside. I’d say it’s well worth losing a few pennies of heat to not be breathing cooking fumes. This is especially important if you use a gas range which causes pollution from the flames. Any kind of cooking produce acrolein fumes that you shouldn’t breathe as well as fine particle pollution, so if you have an electric range don’t think you’re off the hook, you still should vent your range hood outside to keep your indoor cleaner.
kitchen redo 1
There has been big discussions around here revolving around remodeling the house or building a new one. Every small project we tackle has us leaning toward the second option. While installing our new powerful range hood we came across several issues, first one being the very spot we wanted to instal it had four studs stacking to form a support beam – GREAT. So we decided looks weren’t as important as fresh air so venting it with two elbows off to the right side would work. Oh well look at that, another group of studs. So we decided to vent it to the left.
kitchen redo 2 (1)
What did we discover with this option? Oh yeah a gas line. You can imagine our thoughts when we saw this. After a little searching we discovered it was and old line that was disconnected – whew.
kitchen redo 1 (1)
While tackling this project we also found a HUGE nest of insects underneath one cabinet, not sure what exactly happened here – but they are those bone beetles and I found some dog kibble there. Being that we don’t feed dog kibble, I’m guessing perhaps the previous owners kept their kibble in this cabinet? We also found that part of the wood paneling had been eaten by some sort of insect – great. There also seems to have been a time when water got in this corner of the house, not sure if it happened a long time ago and was fixed, or perhaps it’s just lots of mouse urine judging by the rather larger number of old mouse nests we also found – DOUBLE YUCK!
kitchen redo 2
With all of our setbacks we’re still working on getting this crazy thing installed at 8:30pm on Sunday night (so much for a quick project). We ended up having to use two elbows to get the vent in, so now we can’t cover the vent pipe. It’s a good thing I don’t mind the industrial look, and pollution free air will make up for the less than perfect look! I also now have four outlets in the kitchen, super awesome. Before the stove actually had to be plugged in above the countertop (crazy I know) and two outlets didn’t work, so I had to unplug the stove or my over the sink light if I wanted to run the blender or mixer. I’m debating whether or not I want to take the time to paint the kitchen, it’s pretty sad as far as a paint job goes. As you can kind of see in this image, the area above the stove hood wasn’t painted previously, so there’s a square of rather grease stained drywall paper. You can also see the outlines of where the upper cabinets and other things that were hung on the walls – decisions, decisions.
kitchen redo (1)
As we do projects like this we keep adding things to the list of reasons it’s probably not a good idea to sink more money into this current house. There are those times when remodeling can be more costly than building new, we’re still looking at things around here, but we may have reached the tipping point. At least we’ll be breathing clean air while our discussions continue!

Have you tackled any home improvement projects lately? Any setbacks?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.