Friday, August 14, 2020

Farm Friday: Gingham Gardens

"Funny Farm" aside, I'm no farmer.  I do, however, love to garden.  It's just not in my blood, though, it doesn't come to me easily.  I only started getting into it in the last couple years, and mostly what I've done to this point is a small vegetable garden.  I really don't know what I'm doing, just trying to learn as I go along.

So when I find a good resource, it is worth its weight in compost.

Enter Gingham Gardens. This has been such a great resource for me.  Joanna, the author, has developed a wonderful, active website chock-full of useful instruction and ideas including:

  • calendars
  • planners
  • DIY projects
  • printables
  • resource library
  • gift ideas 
Have a question about planning a perennial garden?  She's your man.  Want to incorporate some up-cycled vintage pieces into your landscaping but don't know how?  Get some inspiration from her gorgeous pictures where she shows you how to use these pieces in a beautiful and inviting way in your garden.

Best of all, she is very approachable and relatable.  Some of the gardening things I read make me feel like I'm way out of my depth, but Joanna makes it all seem so very DO-able.

Are you thinking it's too late in the year for me to write about gardening post?  Nope.  Gingham Gardens just recently published the post How to Plan Next Year's Garden in the Middle of Summer. Perfect timing!

So off you go now, check it out.  I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Filling in the Gaps: Divorce and Moving

In January 2015, I wrote a post I titled "Coming Clean".  Here is the bulk of that post (edited down just a bit), which kind of summarizes the changes I had faced to that point:

Although I'd never shied away from writing about the stressful things in my life, there seemed to be a shift.  I felt like if I were to continue writing about the daily goings on under my roof, it would be less how-to from a Mom who'd been-there-done-that, and more Jerry Springer.

Writing about PTSD and trauma and RAD of my young children, in the vein of venting and commiserating and also educating?  What's wrong with that?

Writing about misdemeanors of now adult children?  Not so easy to go there.

Writing about the fall-out of parenting children with mental illness, trauma-based or otherwise? It's all in the name of keeping it real.

Writing about 911 calls, paramedics, police, questioning neighbors, in-patient admissions?  We've moved on to a different realm. 

And aside from the parental side of my life, there's the marital.  How does one write about a separation after 26 years of marriage and not feel just wrong on so many levels?  There's privacy to think about, my kids to think about, my feelings, his feelings, trying to figure out how I feel/he feels/where we stand from one day to the next.  How do you write about that sh**?

Although I know first-hand all that is wrong with "wearing a mask", it is something I have been guilty of.

Nothing to see here!  We're just one big happy family that managed to go from three kids to four through international adoption of a special-needs child, then from four kids to six with the addition of two older internationally adopted kids with mental health issues including RAD, PTSD and more!  Woo hoo! Plus my husband and I were high school sweethearts!  We can weather ANY storm, right?  

Holding that image up for all to see is a disservice to me, to my family, to my readers. 

If I can't write on my blog that it's ok that we are where we are, how am I going to convince my kids?  How am I going to sell it to myself? 

The truth is, it IS ok. 

It's ok that two of my three adopted kids have had their lives dominated by the fallout of the trauma-born mental illness that is often part of the fabric of the lives of adopted children.  I have dealt with those issues with dignity, compassion, and love.  I have been able to tell my children that no matter what they do, I will always love them, even when their actions have caused me to take drastic measures such as eviction, filing charges, hospital admissions, outpatient programs, residential treatment facilities.  It means I love them enough to do whatever it takes to help them become the best persons they can be, even when they may feel that my actions prove just the opposite.

It's ok that life is difficult for the entire family when one of my children (one that's wearing my genes) is dealing with the ramifications of his own mental illness demons.  He didn't ask for it.  My husband and I, given our unique genetic histories, should never have spawned children.  It was the perfect storm. What the family has gone through in dealing with his (and the others) sequellae have stretched us to the limit.  I love my kids for their resilience, their flexibility, their adaptability, their compassion.

It's ok that my husband and I may not have a happily-ever-after marriage.  It just means that we're honest enough with each other that we can attempt to deal with it, that we can own up to having problems, and we can have the courage to try to fix them.  I can't tell you how things will end with us.  All I know is that we're trying to figure out if we have what we need to make our marriage succeed.  The answer may be yes, and it may be no.  Right now the answer is elusive, but I pray that God will show us the answer in His own time.

I am proud of myself for having weathered so much, and to still have the strength I need to deal with problems as they continue to surface.  Let's face it, my life is one big Whac-a-Mole game, and I have to keep sharp and quick in noticing the issues and dealing with them as they arise.  Have you ever watched someone playing Whac-a-Mole?  Their face is always a mixture of both fun and determination. I've got to keep that smile on my face and have fun. 

It's life. 
It's MY life. 

And it is what it is.

It's hard to believe I wrote that more than five and a half YEARS ago!  So, just to bring you up to speed, here is a brief summary of what's happened between that post and now:

  • I dabbled in my own business, Birdsong Bits and Pieces, creating art, decor, and refinishing furniture.
  • James moved out, first to live with my sister in NJ, but when he burned that bridge, on to NY.
  • Started the process of divorce.
  • Fixed up the house with a good bit of help from my friends, to put it on the market.
  • My Mom was given a few months to live, went into hospice care, and died at home with her children around her.
  • Rosie went off to college.
  • Bought a new smaller house, a few miles from the old one.
  • Plans for selling the farmhouse changed: Fred moved back in to the big house with Daniel. 
  • I fixed up and moved into my new house with Patrick, Julie, Bella, (plus a friend of theirs that moved in with us), and Rosie when she was home from school.
  • My daughters' friend moved out.  Julie started going through another round of new problems, culminating in let's just say drama of many varieties.  New ground rules were set that she had to meet or move out.  She moved out.
  • James was brought back home when things got really bad for him in NY.  He seemed to be getting things straightened out here, but sadly has fallen off the rails again.  He is currently (and it breaks my heart to say this) in jail.
  • The divorce was finalized.
  • I have a new job (still in the field of Occupational Therapy, doing home health care) with a great company that pays well and provides benefits even though I'm only part time.
  • And as you may know, I've gone through a bunch of health issues this year (which resulted in four hospital admissions and countless tests and procedures), including surgery to remove a weirdly positioned stone up in my liver, pancreatitis, and open heart surgery. 
And that catches us up on the big picture items.  I'm in my new house with Patrick (commuting to college and working part time), Rosie (who with any luck will be doing a semester as a student teacher this fall to finish up her college education), and Bella (who is working at Goodwill).  Julie is, for the time being, living with Fred, as is Daniel.

Thank you for letting me catch you up!
On my next update I will take you through a tour of my house, that I am very much in love with. Can't wait to show you!


Friday, August 7, 2020

Farm Friday: Chicken Tunnels

Chicken tunnels.

Surely you've heard of them?

Surely you have some?

No?  Then you must build yourself some.  They are the perfect way to get your chickens from point A to point B without either making a huge coop or letting your chickens free-range, which means they will never even make it to point B.

In my case, I wanted to funnel my chooks from their run behind their coop over to our old vegetable garden, which I converted into my compost bin (which isn't really a "bin" per se).

My idea was to build an enclosed space to throw kitchen scraps and yard/garden waste that the chickens could have access to, so they could scratch and poop and do all things chicken-y to turn the scraps into Gardener's Gold.  I decided the raised bed that came with my house was too small to use for my garden, but was a good size for a compost area, and situated close-but-not-too-close to the house, so it would be ideal.  But it was about 45' or so from the chicken coop.  

Enter chicken tunnels. 

Since I already had nice sturdy livestock paneling as my existing fence, I had a great base from which to build.  I don't have a "how-to" picture tutorial, but it was pretty simple.  If you plan to build a free-standing tunnel, your design will need to be different, so off you go, look elsewhere.

Anyway, here's how I made them...

What I did was to take shorter hog panels, as opposed to the taller cattle panels, and laid them on the ground.  I placed a 2x4 lengthwise on the panel where I wanted it to bend.  Then I just planted my feet on the 2x4, grabbed the upper end of the panel, and pulled so that it bent.  I just moved the board down and pulled up on the far end and kept going back and forth till I had the curve the way I wanted it. 

I only needed the tunnel to be "dig-proof" on one side.  On the inside of my fence (the backyard side), I was making a long row of raised beds for my vegetable garden, which you can kind of see in some of the pictures, but not all.  So since that side had a 20" buffer with the raised beds, I didn't need an "apron" of wire.  I did, however, need that on the other side in order to keep any predators from digging into the tunnel.  Sort of hard to explain, but I attached chicken wire to the existing fence with zip ties, then attached the new tunnel panels to the fence with zip ties, then wrapped the chicken wire over the tunnel, attaching here and there with - you guessed it - zip ties.  Where the tunnel met the ground, I ran the wire out about 12", and secured the chicken wire to the ground with garden staples, the kind you tack landscaping cloth down with.  The grass just grows right up through it, so it is not a problem mowing over it, and you'd never know it was there to look at it.  In fact, you don't even need to weed wack up against the tunnel because the chickens just stick their little beaks through and weed wack for you, considerate little creatures that they are.

So I just kept repeating this down the length of the fence till I got it to where it needed to be.  I overlapped the panels a bit.  You know what I used to secure one panel to the next?  I'm not even gonna say it.  It's good to have a little mystery in our lives here and there. 

Again, apologies for not taking pictures as I went along to make this a tutorial.  It just wasn't in my mind at the time.  But hopefully it makes sense.  If not, head over to Pinterest where I'm sure you can find some legit tutorials with pictures and everything.  I think that's where I got my idea, and then just tweaked it to work for my particular situation.

By the way, my chickens just love it, and it's been working beautifully.  I've had zero problems with it.  And I could do worse for entertainment than to sit with a cold one at the end of the day and watch them darting back and forth like hamsters in a Habitrail.

Beatrice, ever the pack leader.

Old veggie garden turned compost bin

Veggie garden-turned compost bin.

                                         Scraps turned into gold, right before my eyes.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...