Garden 2020: Update

Update 1
Update 2
Garden update #3
Update 4

 Always learning. Always growing. I think this year is the best yet. Four pictures, one from each corner of my garden.


Making it through

The hardest day of my year is always the day before.

Let me go back four years.  I was visiting my dad and was wishing I didn't have to return after a week.  I thought about my vacation bank from work. It was plenty full. I ended up deciding to use that time and stay another week.  The next year, I saved my vacation time from work the entire year and stayed two weeks.  After that, I had an opportunity at my job to forfeit any benefits to have the flexibility to take even more time at camp.  Last year we stayed three weeks at camp.  This year we're staying a solid month. (We being the kids and me. My husband stays back and works, thank you, Justin).

While we are there, it's a good, good thing. It's just my littles and me the majority of the time.  We go for a morning walk. We swim. We read. We paint and draw.  We go for boat rides. We keep nature journals.  We see family.  We relax.  There is no internet, no phone.  No distractions. I keep meals so incredibly simple. It's the most peaceful time out of the whole year.  The kids cannot wait. It's the highlight of their year.

But the day before all this?  SO hard.  To pack what we need for school, recreation and necessities for a month, PLUS to get the barn, yard, house, animals, gardens in 'good to go' status, WHILE managing kids who are SO excited that they cannot find anything functional to do and they are either fighting or trying to help in a way that is not very helpful at all, AND deal with my emotions (I always cry leaving my beloved gardens and farmhouse).  The day before was today. And it was hard. 

I just put the kids in bed and I was thinking, did I even smile today?  Did I enjoy any of it?  Did I just bark orders and referee?  I am certain I was not at my best.

Just as I was finding myself spiraling down 'I'm a failure' lane, I spotted drawings my kids left for me.

The first is Adrian's. He drew me (in my glasses) with my wheelbarrow.  I had the dog following me and my shovel.  I was out to mulch the gardens, he said.  He drew me smiling.

 The next is Audra's.  She drew me laying in my hammock under the maple tree.  I was reading to the big kids, who were in their lawn chairs drawing. THere's a cat on the porch.  She drew me smiling.
 Anna-Kate keeps drawing me boyfriends. I know I smile at those.
Noticing their drawings brought me right to tears.  Even though my day was not the easiest, when they go to think about the day, they think of the times I was smiling.  My view of myself is that I'm never measuring up.  Their view of me is the opposite. 

My mind may be going at a speed that is too rapid for my liking, my to do list is way too long, the hours I have been sleeping have been way too few, but it will be worth it. This time tomorrow night, I shall be exhaling here, and I cannot wait.

Body by Congdons!

This post is thanks to my good friend, Cricket, who helped make this happen! (Check out her awesome masks at ).

It all stems from a story.  My husband saw this man exercising who is maybe a decade older and ripped.  Clearly this man survives off of protein only and does nothing but exercise.  My husband said "I'm going to look like that someday", which we all burst out laughing.   Then, as we were driving by Congdons Doughnuts (which are the best homemade doughnuts in the world), he said "Who am I kidding, I'm not giving up food! I have 'Body by Congdons'".  We all laughed and said that would be such a funny shirt.

Fast forward to Cricket. She made it happen. (Thank you!!!)  We laughed a lot today!  And he got doughnuts!

Here's his one of a kind shirt:

Our day...

 Trying to fit it all in, although I do not do well one bit with this heat.

But a rundown...

Last of the homemade pumpkin muffins for first breakfast and shooed them outside.
In the garden before 7am...
Pulled weeds
Watered trouble spots
Fenced my succession planting of broccoli
Pulled the peas and replanted some more for fall
Heard a hollering from afar 'TWENTY EGGS THIS MORNING, MAMA!'
Spread 3 wheelbarrows of mulch
Picked a big bowl of green beans
Shooed little feet from stepping on plants (they all like to be 2 cm. from me, always)
Picked a fresh bouquet
Celebrated a peck of peppers Peter would proclaim were perfect.

Okay, maybe not a peck, but still a lot.

Back in for a proper breakfast of homemade toast, our own peaches and fresh eggs.
Plus homemade popsicles.
Three loads of laundry line dried, folded AND put away.
Jarred parsley for winter.
Basil dehydrating now for winter.
Family lunch, with homegrowns.
Reshelved a pile of borrowed books that were returned.
Kids took a virtual archaeology class.
Big box of their Aquaponics project supplies arrived.
A new book arrived in the mail ("Tree for Peter", have you read it?).
More homemade popsicles.
Too hot and too tired to put forth the effort for an ocean swim (which we do just about everyday), so let them have a summer movie to celebrate their cleaned rooms (they were thrilled!).
I picked and packaged collard green and kale seeds to store for next year.
Fed my kids the last of the fresh raspberries with oatmeal (still have a freezer full!).
Homemade vanilla ice cream.
Read to them our latest biography (Betsy Ross).
Kissed them goodnight.
Watered the garden.
Chased this one pullet the kids named "Hawk" around, for he doesn't go in the coop at night.
Slipped a red tomato in my pocket and grabbed a ready zucchini.
More kitchen cleaning.
And now I abandon the kitchen cleaning (which isn't done) to blog and read because this day is 10x more exhausting done in the summer heat.

Hot. Tired. Accomplished. I go to bed feeling thankful that I am able to provide all I can for this family with my own two hands.

Virtual Fair

No in person fair this year, but we're participating in the virtual fair.  Here are their entries:



My garlic is pretty grand, but the model is even more stunning.  May she always want to help and never be afraid to get dirty in her fancy clothes.

Story Hour

Storytime at the library looks very different compared to what we are used to.  Anna-Kate still joins her favorite librarians and does all the moves they do. Can't help but smile watching her.


While this pandemic thing has actually not impacted my kids as much as some other kids, today I feel the weight of it on me as the mama. Being a homeschool mama and a working mama who works with kids, I'm around kids always. Pair that with having no family local and a husband who works a lot, I'm almost always flying solo with the crew. Usually our summer for the kids is filled with camps and activities.  Each week from when public schools are out until August, we are running kids here and there.  While some of the summer activities I am present at, there are also many that my kids are dropped off at. Dropping off the kids isn't something we typically do during the year since I help run most of their activities throughout the year.  The July drop offs feel like a real treat not only to the kids, but this weary mama too. But there are no places to be dropped off at.  I can't even remember how many weeks? months? since I've been alone for a spell. There are moments lately when I wish I could find a quiet space where no one would find me, like a cat.

I'm trying to find ways to give myself  a little break at home. The kids took a cardboard challenge through 4-H and got along for a good portion of the day creating. 
 And I got them little surprise treasures, which isn't something that I do except for birthdays/holidays. That inspired a bit of uninterrupted time, too.

But the truth of the matter is anything I try to do to get a bit of space is only a temporary fix. I don't really need my own space, I need a different headspace. A change of mindset. Changing those "I'm struggling" thoughts that creep into my mind to "I can do this." I need to nip the negativity in the bud before it starts overtaking my brain. Positive thoughts will give way to more positive thoughts. With a change in of mindset, I can and will feel encouraged.  I know I can tackle whatever is in my path, I just need to keep my eyes on what's important and what matters. 


One meal a day includes a generous helping of berries I picked. There are no complaints from the littles! 


Summers grow our love for nature deeper. I found a hummingbird stuck in our garage window. Audra caught it and peeled away the spider web from the beak. It flew away and survived.
 Adrian brought me a barn swallow. I made him put it back in the barn. It took off too.  He has also brought me a sparrow a couple weeks ago too.
 Anna-Kate is constantly picking plants. I get daily bowls full of things.
 I was surprised to almost step on this milk snake.

 It actually had just died (got run over from the tractor I suspect). A marvelous experience to interact with it.  We've also found some great bugs and some really intricate spider webs.  Natural journal entries are definitely daily this time of year.


The kids are on week 3 of their Aquaponics class. This class is through 4-H and it's virtual.  It's been amazing and intense.  They have learned so much. I have too.  They have learned about the systems, how to get started, what to choose, how to go about it.  They have set and presented their goals, designed, planned, researched, created a budget and shopped (online). Then the kids just did a grant proposal for funds to build their own.  Also, they presented their ideas to the group on Zoom. They have expectations of keeping records and presenting their final project. All this is scaled down to being age appropriate, but requires all the steps adults would need to do in the business place. We've spent SO many hours on this and have many more hours to go. I am so beyond proud of my kids. They are interested, attentive, participate, make comments, ask questions and thus far have presented their ideas like true leaders.  We have an NFT and a Raft system both partially constructed.  I cannot wait to show off their completed systems and sample their first produce.  This project we signed up for is a few months in duration, we hope to be updating as we dive into aquaponics as a family. It's about to get fishy here!
Audra's Raft Aquaponics Design
Adrian's NFT Aquaponics Design

My little forager

This girl is a lover of plants. She notices them wherever she goes. She likes to know the names and what she can and cannot eat.  Well, she went out and about and found herself some asparagus on this property that was likely planted decades ago.  It's not easy to find, but she found it.  She LOVES asparagus.  She begged me to cook it up for her for breakfast.  

Asparagus she found and eggs she collected.  Gathering her own breakfast at age 3.  
 She licked the plate when it was all gone.

A day in the life...

A day in the life...

Morning walk w/ my middle and pup.
Animal chores.
Clothes on the line.
Fresh bouquet on the table.
Made 6 loaves of bread and froze a few quarts of green beans while listening/monitoring big kids for their aquaponics virtual class.
Sold bread & eggs and gave away some free things for a roadside stand.
Made shrimp/rice bowls for lunch w/ our own herbs, greens, tomatoes and garlic.
Helped kids size up what we have handy for their aquaponics project and wash up what we do have.
Picked and put away two quarts of raspberries.
Hauling in the zucchini.
Collected 3 dozen japanese beetles for the chickens.
Hauled away some brush I cut at dusk last night.
Planted some fast growing fall sunflowers.
Made a chocolatey dessert.
Evening books w/ kids.
Out to the garden to try to figure out what to do with these tomatoes. Year 3 of dabbling w/ permaculture has my plants bigger than ever. I clearly need to space out my plants more than I ever have.
Braided strands of kale plants that have gone to seed. Will save those seeds once dry to plant next year.
Kitchen cleaning.
Now a bit of time for sewing before reading before bed.

Full days on the farm are the absolute best. <3

Garden 2020: Update 4

Update 1
Update 2
Garden update #3

The whole spread, including my orchard!
 Zoomed in.  My orchard in the back, blueberry patch, asparagus bed, strawberry patch perennials strip I'm working on adding, main garden, raspberry half circle, woodchip pile, rhubarb and cherry bushes.
 You can see to the left the perennial strip and the area I'm going to add some more annual flowers, fall type sunflowers, (provided my order will hurry up and get here!).
 Not a bug on the potatoes yet, best we've ever done mounding them.
 The garden slants slightly down. Adding these raised beds has made a huge difference with the amount I can grow in the back of the garden.
 I've been hauling greens, herbs, green beans, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and garlic out so far.  Zippy is always good for company.
 Our little eggplant, kids excited for it.
I also have this mess. We will see what it ends up being. I had the kids plant some random seeds and this is what came up. It's sort of like a mystery grab bag surprise.  We shall see what we get.

The flowers in the garden keep coming.  I plant more and more annual flowers every year. The bees are everywhere.

All in all, we're eating fresh produce daily and are really enjoying the beauty of a July garden.


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