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May Day

May 1, 2009

false solomon’s seal, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

The woods are coming alive with so many things that I lose count.  Each year, I plan to catalog the different plants growing in our little patch of woodland.  I quickly get behind and just let nature be.  The southern appalachians have one of the most diverse (some say, most diverse)  collections of  flora in the world. 
We’ve been planting many native species on our property.  The big project this spring has been reestablishing the stream bank.  Honeysuckle and bittersweet had overtaken most of the area, covering parts of the creek.  We cut, pulled, hauled out and burned vast mounds of the stuff.  Charlie overseeded the area with a wetlands/shade mix he developed for one of our old clients.  It’s amazing to see the difference a month makes.  Wildflowers and ferns are sprouting.  I’ve planted native trees and shrubs and soon the streambed should be healthy again.  We wondered why it took us five years to take on this task.  Hey, unemployment gives you lots of opportunities to improve your life…

Baking Lessons

April 28, 2009

easy cake, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

The Monkey came home with an intriguing homework assignment yesterday.  The assignment:  make something yummy, and each night this week work on a “how-to” lesson.  Monkey was set on making a chocolate cake.  I remembered making a very easy cake in 7th grade Home Ec class, one that required a minimum of ingredients, time and utensils.  I scoured the internet and quickly found what I was looking for – Depression Chocolate Cake, or Easy Chocolate Cake, or One Pan Chocolate Cake (it depended on the website…)  All recipes were basically the same.  A simple, frugal cake that was quick and tasty.
Monkey did the whole thing.  She was so proud of herself.  I was surprised at the minimal mess… She noticed there were no eggs.  From a previous baking foray she knew that eggs help things rise.  It didn’t take her long to figure out that the vinegar and baking soda would do the same (we have made a “volcano”!)  Nothing like a little practical science thrown in for fun.
We had cake for dessert.  Tonight and Wednesday she must write and illustrate her recipe.  On Thursday, we must create it again to make sure it works.  Friday is the due date.  What a great

Sophie’s Easy Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Grab an 8″ x 8″ square pan.  Throw in the following dry ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Mix separately:
6 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup cold water,
then dump it on the dry ingredients, stir to blend, but don’t over mix.  Slap it in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  Pull it out, let it cool and enjoy.  So easy, even a 6 (almost 7!!!) year old can do it!
It makes a damn fine breakfast too…

The Zen of Morning Chores

April 23, 2009

Dulcinea helps with morning chores, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

Now that warmer weather has returned to Little Creek Farm, I can take over the role of morning choremaster.  There’s a certain natural flow to the morning that occurs once the Monkey is off to school and Charlie has left for the day. 
The cat is fed first, as she’s the first to rise and gets me up before everyone else.  She’s outside and prowling by the time Monkey leaves for school.  The dogs are fed – first Gigi, then Tuck, and finally Biscuit with her special old lady food.   Next I head outside.  On fine days, such as today, I patrol with coffee cup in hand.  The chicks come first.  For 3 years each spring the chicks were housed in my studio.  Now that the studio is full of work, they have been moved to the shed.  The new batch doesn’t seem to mind.  I clean and fill their feeder and waterer.  I check each one, cupping them in my hand and let them free again.  Right now I have an injured duck, so I check on her and clean and fill her water and feed.  She may be ready to go back to the barnyard today.
Next I head to the barnyard.  Dulcinea and Agatha Grunker, the goats, await my arrival somewhat impatiently.  I let them out of their nighttime pen and take them to one of the paddocks.  I let the geese out and listen to their complaints then go to the chicken house and let everyone else out.  This is the loudest part of the day.  Once I fill the feeders and throw out a little scratch things settle down and I can take a moment to survey the crowd.  Life is good.
The dogs have been waiting with borderline patience by the gate.  It’s their turn now.  We walk around the place, chasing sticks and balls.  They splash in the creek.  I check on the state of the blueberries and apples.  The pawpaws are starting to leaf out and the lilac is in full bloom.  I head back inside for more coffee and the rest of my day.

A Return of Sorts

April 21, 2009

the grand view, originally uploaded by maggies farm.

It has been sometime since I sat down to record the daily happenings at Little Creek Farm.  I’ve decided to move my blog, rename it and see what happens.  After four years as “My Room with a View”, it’s time to change.  The last year has brought many changes around here.  We’ve lost jobs, started new projects with some success and have struggled to get by.  I don’t stay in my room and look out too much these days.  I’m busy with our little homestead and painting in my studio. 
I’m hoping that writing from a new place will help me focus somewhat.  So here it is, a new beginning.  It’s planting time at Little Creek.  Spring brings many changes to the barnyard and to our lives.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this spring is good to us.